The O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat was first held on October 30-31, 2004, at the Springhill Retreat Center in Richardson, Texas. More than 140 students of all ages gathered to learn traditional Irish music on a variety of instruments taught by teachers mostly from the Dallas area. The enrollment was far greater than what was expected, and the turnout demonstrated a strong interest in Irish music throughout Texas and the Southwest region.
Indeed, Irish music has been played and enjoyed in Dallas pubs and festivals for many years, going back to the early ‘80s when a handful of bands formed and played regularly at places like the NFL Bar, George Wesby’s Pub and the Cedar Pub. Its popularity increased locally as the North Texas Irish Festival and the Southwest Celtic Music Association were formed to promote the music. But unlike in other major cities in other parts of the country, Irish trad music here has been mostly locally-grown and self-taught. There wasn’t much emphasis on the teaching and the understanding and appreciation of the roots of Irish music. That all was about to change, thanks in part to the influence of one man.