In 2006, Leitrim County Council Arts Office with the support of the Arts Council devised a programme called ‘The Leitrim Equation’. The idea behind the programme was to promote the professional development of musicians by working with leading traditional Irish bands or musicians as part of an 18-month artist residency programme. As part of the project, the resident musicians held a number of performances, visited various community and school groups, worked with local musicians and devised professional development workshops led by national and international practitioners in music production and promotion.
Lúnasa became the first Band in Residence. They visited many favoured sessions of Leitrim musicians, played for school and community groups, worked with musicians, and recorded ‘The Leitrim Equation 1’. The CD contained many newly composed tunes which came out of the regular ‘new tunes’ workshops with Lúnasa members Kevin Crawford and Paul Meehan.
In 2009 Dervish took up the baton where Lúnasa left off. The emphasis in this residency was in the songs of Leitrim. The prominence on Leitrim songs came out of a desire by Cathy Jordan to meet and sing with a number of Leitrim singers with the aim of identifying songs native to Leitrim and bringing them to a new audience.
For the third residency, three legends in Irish music, Dónal Lunny, John Carty and Séamus Begley were invited to come together, discover and interpret Leitrim tunes and songs, to play with musicians they met, and to share their vast knowledge and experience with the next generation of Leitrim musicians. During their time in the county, they worked on a multi-stage production at The Dock in partnership with Knock Airport which was live-streamed internationally. The residency culminated in a concert featuring over 20 Leitrim musicians which toured to London as part of the Return to Camden Festival.
This fourth Leitrim Equation group has come together as part of the county’s fourth residency programme. The group features the musical prowess of Leitrim musicians Eleanor Shanley, Padraig McGovern, Dave Sheridan and John McCartin who have been joined over the last number of months for this production by Donal Lunny, poet Vincent Woods and Sean Nos dancer Edwina Guckian.
The residency lasts eighteen months and has seen the group make a number of visits throughout Leitrim, meeting local musicians, and linking up with different community and school groups. Coupled with the performance programme based on the music of Leitrim, musicians from all over the county, and country, also availed of a wide ranging professional development and mentoring programme with industry specialists called 'Leading Edge'. A number of younger Leitrim musicians were brought together to become Brí, an exciting new group of musicians from throughout the county who developed a new repetoire and performance skills under the guidance of Dave Sheridan and Padraig McGovern. Working closely with Dave and Padraig, as well as honing their music and stage skills, Brí have been uncovering some hidden gems of Leitrim music as well as venturing into composing new works which may well become further ingredients of the rich Leitrim heritage