Program Overview

Train in Irish music at The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance (IWA) this summer! This two-week intensive is built around a central structure of small master classes, where you will have an unparalleled level of access to tutors who are leading experts and performers on a specific instrument (or voice). Lectures, illustrated talks, workshops, and other activities are packed around the master classes to give you both a broad understanding of the tradition as well as advanced practical skills. While the emphasis will be on practical instruction, students will also gain an understanding of the history and development of Irish music, right in the heart of where it was developed! All training occurs in the beautiful IWA facilities on the banks of the River Shannon, and you will be invited to participate in nightly traditional jam sessions in the campus pub.

“I literally have nothing bad to say about this program! All of the logistics were made clear from the start of the application process and because of this I felt very comfortable with leaving the country by myself. The classes were all great with some truly phenomenal instructors in the Irish music scene. The food was good, transportation was easy to arrange and the culture was relatively easy to adapt to. Most importantly, my fellow students became very close friends over just two weeks and I know that we will keep in touch even though the program has ended.”

Performing Arts Points of Interest


Dolan’s is a music venue and restaurant well-loved by the Limerick community. The venue is a lively atmosphere that hosts local and international bands frequently. There are also numerous events happening often at the site. Past events have included launch parties, “An Enchanted Evening” by the Cecilian Musical Society, and the Limerick Animal Welfare Lip Sync Battle.

The Red Hen

The Red Hen is a restaurant bar in Limerick known for its live music. The Red Hen took a unique approach in their origins as a late night venue as they built their brand around the music they wanted to attract. The Red Hen is so committed to new, local music that the first 4 bands that played at the bar didn’t even have a name yet! Each week the Red Hen hosts at least 3 live performances.

The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance

Part of the University of Limerick, the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance is a creative space for musicians, dancers, and artists of all types. The academy hosts events and performances for the public and university community.

PAA Home Base

The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance is the pinnacle of performance and academic excellence housed at the University of Limerick. Founded in 1994 by Professor Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, the academy has come to find its true home on the  beautiful banks of the River Shannon in a state of the art building, which includes two theatres, a recording studio, and individual dance studios, providing an inspiring creative space for all who study there.

About the Location

Limerick is Ireland’s third largest city with the cultural excitement of a metropolis and the charm of a town. Named as Ireland’s 2014 National City of Culture, the easygoing city will captivate you with its surrounding bright green landscape, friendly residents, and historical buildings. Explore ancient castles, walk along the River Shannon, or spend the day in Limerick’s modern downtown. Limerick is an artistic center with countless venues for Irish music and dance as well as a rich history. The city’s mild weather makes it easy to take advantage of the old world pubs, delicious restaurants, and many sports venues. Limerick is the perfect starting point from which to explore Ireland’s West and Southwest regions. Within driving distance of the city are the Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle and Fold Park, Adare, Killarney, and the incredible scenery of Galway.


On-campus accommodation is provided in the magnificent Cappavilla Student Village on the banks of the River Shannon, and only a brief walk away from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. Participants will have single rooms in a six-bedroom house. Houses are integrated with international and local students living together, meaning you will have the chance to make Irish friends as well as meet students from other countries. Included in the cost of housing are shared amenities of a fully equipped kitchen, living room, internet, cable TV, and in each bedroom a bed, desk, and wardrobe. Each room is single occupancy with a double bed and private bathroom.

Village management lives on site and is on call 24 hours a day. They are committed to making your living situation a positive one, and with years of experience hosting new and international students they can help you with any problems that may arise from homesickness to housemates.

Summer facilities in Cappavilla student village include:

  • All bedrooms are en suite (private bathroom) and include quality study space
  • Fully fitted kitchen/living room equipped with all necessary utensils, oven and fridge freezer
  • Color television
  • Central heating
  • Telephone in each house
  • Nightly security patrols
  • Secure bicycle storage
  • Bed linen and towels are provided for the length of stay.
  • Internet access is provided free of charge to Blas students through the Glucksman Library on campus.

A Day in the Life

The Participant Experience

“Blas” means “taste” in Irish Gaelic, and this program gives you the opportunity to focus on training in your primary instrument, while getting a “taste” of other instruments and even dance! You have full control over your masterclass schedule, and can choose from any number of instruments offered, or singing. The first few days of the program will be spent with our Site Director, John, exploring Limerick and the region of Ireland where it is situated. Then you will be handed off to our Program Director, Pam, who will get you oriented to the intensive training program. Once the training starts, your days will be packed from early in the morning to late at night with traditional Irish music. The weekend between the two weeks of training is meant for relaxing and a full-day excursion where you will visit the iconic Cliffs of Moher, along with other famous landmarks in the region.

On Arrival

You will book a flight to arrive at Shannon Airport (SNN) before 10:00 a.m. on the arrival day. You will be greeted by our Site Director, John, who will transport you to your housing at the University of Limerick before taking you on a campus orientation walking tour to familiarize you with the place you will call home for the next 17 days. You will then meet at an on-campus pub called The Stables Bar and take a bus to the city centre of Limerick for a walking tour and welcome meal. After the meal, you will see other areas of Limerick including King John’s Castle and St. Mary’s Cathedral. Time will be allotted for shopping to pick up anything you may have forgotten, and to get a local SIM card for your phone. After enjoying coffee to keep you awake after a long day, you will return to campus to settle in to your room and get a good night’s sleep.

The following day, you will join the group for a day-long excursion to Lough Gur and the town of Kilmallock. On Saturday, you will have a relaxed “food tour” of downtown Limerick, including a visit to the wonderful milk market to try local specialties. Sunday is the last day before your rigorous training schedule begins, and you will have the day free to enjoy the campus and town, and do whatever you need to prepare.

A Typical Day

A typical day on the Blas training program includes the following components:

  • Lectures on ethnomusicology and the history of Irish music and dance by renowned professors
  • Masterclasses where you train in one specific instrument at a time (you will choose a primary instrument and are welcome to train in others as well)
  • A daily Tutor Concert where you will see your instructors perform together
  • Irish Gaelic classes to learn the traditional local language
  • Dinner in the on-campus restaurant (included in the program cost)
  • Nightly traditional Irish music and dance session at the campus pub
  • Ticket to the Blas concert series (one concert per week), showcasing Ireland’s finest talents
  • Ensemble rehearsals to prepare for the final student performance (second week only)
  • Final performance showcasing what you have learned

To download a sample timetable for this summer’s training, please click here.

To download a comprehensive list of Blas music instructors, please click here. Note that final instructors will be chosen closer to the program’s start date.

Host Group

Now in its 22nd year, the Blas program is offered by the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at The University of Limerick. Located in one of the most beautiful and vibrant artistic communities in Ireland, Limerick has consistently been named one of the emerald isle’s best places to visit, and was named the 2014 Irish National City of Culture. The University has been hosting international students who want to be immersed into culture for years, and prides itself on the welcome atmosphere it offers. The Irish World Academy is renowned as a place to “break new ground, to find your own voice, to rediscover older sounds and gestures or to reinvent received traditions,” and the Blas program is a unique and prestigious opportunity.

Because Blas is run out of the University of Limerick, you have the option to receive an academic transcript for 3 credits. Your Program Coordinator will ask you if you are interested in this option during your application interview.



“Blas is one of the best experiences I’ve had. It gave me the opportunity to make friends from several nations and a wide variety of ages, work with some of Ireland’s greatest musicians, and immersed me in Irish music. I met people I know I’ll continue friendships with and talk to for a long time. The faculty at Blas were wonderful and helpful. I one hundred percent recommend this program!”

“During my time at the Blas Summer School, I had one of the best experiences of my life. I made friendships and connections that will last a life time, I learned about traditional Irish music and dance, and I got the chance to work with some of the best Irish musicians and tutors out there.”

“It was incredibly refreshing to learn how another culture experiences music. With the opportunity to learn Irish Traditional Music, I was able to enjoy music free from any competitive atmosphere. I felt free to try new instruments and I felt welcomed by musicians of all levels. Experiencing music from a different cultural context brought new life into my approach towards music. Music became a means of therapy rather than a means to gain a competitive edge. This was just the kind of trip I needed to bring life into my own approach towards composition and performance.”

How it Works

The information on this page provides details for a sample group program. Note that every group is different, and we will work with you to cater the experience to your group. To connect with us and begin organizing a program for your group, please follow the “Get Started’ button below and submit an initial questionnaire. We will then contact you to set up a discovery call where we can go into more detail about your group’s needs and what we can offer.

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