Bernard’s Summer School is probably the largest Central European educational and social event focused on traditional Irish culture, especially on Irish dancing, music and singing, Irish language and cinematography. It usually takes place for 7 days during the third week of August in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.
Bernard’s Summer School is primarily an educational event, i.e. it creates space for a whole complex of traditional Irish culture – there are lessons of Irish step dancing on all levels, also Irish set dancing and sean-nós dancing. Participants can learn to play the instruments used in traditional Irish music – especially whistles, fiddle, bodhrán, guitar, banjo, uilleann pipes, button accordion and newly the most Irish instrument of all – the harp. For several years there have also been entertaining Irish lessons and this year we are also adding singing lessons, the so-called sean-nós singing. The Summer School programme is also annually enriched by screenings of films which either originate in Ireland or are somehow connected with it.
Bernard’s Summer School also has a huge social dimension. That happens especially due to the fact that a substantial amount of people connected by a common cultural interest gather in one place for a whole week. The interest is apparent not just in the common participation in the lessons but also in numerous accompanying events of the Summer School. These include especially the evening music sessions – meetings in a pub or a classroom for musicians as well as dancers. The Summer School also includes several ceilí evenings where the participants can enjoy various forms of Irish dance, especially in its entertaining forms (ceilí and set dancing), usually with live music accompaniment. Last but not least the participants are involved in the Final Evening Show where they contribute to the whole programme with their performances.
Bernard’s Summer School is an international event. That means that not just the teachers but also the participants come from various parts of Europe and they come together to experience the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of this event. The truth of these words is proven by the repeated participation of many dancers and musicians in this event. There were even Irish people coming to Prague as take part in the Summer School, most participants however come from the surrounding and near countries of Europe. I personally think that it even is a global event if there are participants from Japan or Canada – which has also been the case.
Bernard’s Summer School is an unusual event in a beautiful city. A rich cultural programme with the backdrop of stunning Prague architecture with all its historical styles and the picturesque silhouette of the Prague Castle only underline the complex of experiences which the Summer School participants take home with them.
Bernard’s Summer School does not have any substantial limitations for it participants. Everyone who have been charmed by Irish music or dance can find something to do. The programme is excellent for dance or music groups who will find a lot of inspiration and also many friends with the same interests. I also do not hesitate to offer the Summer School as a family holiday – the programme is in many lessons also suited for complete beginners.
Bernard’s Summer School is economically convenient. Although this event is organised almost without any financial support, grants and sponsorships, the price of one set of lessons never exceeded EUR 100. That is possible due to the ever growing number of interested students, efficient organisation and a very good reputation of this event declared by its participants.
The basic principle of Bernard’s Summer School is a quality educational programme realized by specialised and empathic teachers. The desired result is a satisfied participant.