Music in the Castle

A typical Music in the Castle diary

The following gives a rather personal view about this event.

Thursday or before

It really begins with the preparations. To think about whom I will meet, what excursions I will participate in, what instruments to bring, browsing through the score books,... In most times there is not enough space in the luggage and decisions have to be made. While doing all of this, my mind files through all the memories of the years before.


The real journey begins today. While waiting for the ferry, the eyes already search the other side of the water. Being on the ferry is then the final step. Everything else is left behind. These small red ferry tickets are like a passport for a different world. I'm not far from Glasgow, but after the ferry there is only the small road to Benmore Centre and no road back.

The first arrival at the Castle is an adventure in itself and I will not spoil it by giving details. In the big hall Lorna is waiting. There is always a warm welcome and newcomers are guided to find their rooms. No one has ever been lost for long, but the term “Hogwardien” pops into the mind, while using stairs and passways to come from one part of the building to the other.

There is no big meal on the first evening, but there are some places to take food on the road from Dunoon to Benmore. After arranging the things in the room, discovering who might share the room and storing the additional bottle in safe places, the first music session begins.

The normal procedure is, that everybody is allowed to perform what he or she likes. Dave Jones leads and encourages musicians or comments (very seldom). Even people who are there for the first time discover very quickly, that there is a good atmosphere. Professionals might play after people very new to folk music or even music in general, but everone is listened to. This might take us to the wee hours, but most people know, that an exhausting Saturday will wait for them...


Breakfast is not always a full cooked one, but gorgeous enough anyway to keep everyone satisfied, at least the ones who make it in time. After that, the music workshops and outdoor activities start. The groups devoted to music find their rooms while the others prepare to participate in the organised events by the Benmore staff.

Noon sees the groups after the first transformation. Now everybody knows each other, and the discussion of projects for the afternoon is going on.

This is the evening of the Ceilidh dance.

After the dancing, the people float back to the castle and soon a new music session is going on. This will, in most cases, be the longest of the weekend.


The morning sees some very tired faces, but the good breakfast helps to slide us into reality again. Sunday morning can be used for walks while a small group attends the Easter church service in Dunoon.

Tonight is the night of the concert. In most cases the tutors and some of the guests form the support act.

The session after the concert is often enriched by the presence of the members of the performing band.


This means departure but also exchanging addresses with new found friends. Last comments about people not able to be up in time for breakfast. Waving a "thank you" to the Benmore Crew, who have again done a wonderful job. Being on the ferry allows one last look back at the mountain tops above the Benmore Centre. Each year, one more of these tops is no longer unknown. Even their distant view raises the memories of hidden bogs or a shared beer aside one of these big stones, scattered up to the summits. A last look to listen to nature's majestic tunes, which have been blended together with the music, the stories and the craik. Another set of precious moments to treasure, to help us through the more boring parts of life.

Design & Implementation Jan Neuhaus