Lake School of Celtic Music Song and Dance is a function of the Moyne Celtic Traditions Association (MCTA) Inc. MCTA Inc was created: “To foster, present and celebrate the performance and teaching of traditional Celtic Music, Song and Dance and its related art forms with regard to its modern and Australian connections.” Lake School of Celtic Music Song and Dance is our most well known event.

Celtic Song and Dance

Lake School is a family friendly and inclusive event run annually in the village of Koroit, Victoria. From humble beginnings in 2000 we now welcome approximately 500 people overall, including students, friends and families, to the Lake School each year. The Lake School is a not-for-profit, registered, community organisation. Any profits made are reinvested into the event to continue its growth and development.

We are grateful to the people of Koroit for making us welcome each year and to the following major sponsors and supporters:
Moyne Shire, Port Fairy Folk Festival, Maton guitars, Koroit Lions Club, Daly’s IGA, Koroit, and District Primary School, St Patrick’s Primary School Koroit, Mickey Bourke’s Hotel, Dukes Commercial Hotel, The Koroit Historical Society, Harmony at Tower Hill, St Patricks Luxury Boutique Hotel Dublin House (Graphic Design), The Apollo Bay PA Team (Louey Hesterman. Phil Langdon, and John Osborne), Bushwahzee and Chelsea Yacht Club.

Thanks also to Paul and Wendy Flannery, Suzi Madden, Vera Herman, Katy Addis, Kathy Baulch, Peter Mitchell, Margot Callaghan, John Corby, Anne Daffy and family.

The Lake School Story

A brief history of the Lake School

Early Years 2000-2002

In 1999 Felix and Christine Meagher, and Val Cookson at Walker’s Lane, Koroit discuss taking their children to the Willie Clancy School in Ireland. They decide they can’t afford it. Jamie McKew (Director, Port Fairy Folk Festival) suggests to Felix, “Why don’t you have it here?” Through the Koroit Community Development Association (KDCA) Val successfully applies to Moyne Shire for funding, and the date for the first Lake School is set for April 2000. In 2001 The Lake School moves its annual event permanently to early January.

The Lake School is launched in January 2000 at the Commercial Hotel, Koroit with performers including including Shane Howard, Tommy Carty and Lou Hesterman. The first three Lake Schools hold Concerts and Ceildhes at Crossley Hall, and Killarney Hotel and Koroit Convent are among the major venues. First Lake School tutors are Billy Moran (accordion), Fay and Morgan McAlinden (dance), Barb Scott (tin whistle), Vince Brophy (guitar), Ben Stephenson (bodhran), Sean Kenan (fiddle) and Margie Brophy and Christine Meagher (Kids Program).

Kids Program self devised productions include “Accidents Happen” and “Schreckerella.” First Lake School Concert at Tower Hill features indigenous singer, Andy Alberts. Early Lake School run for seven days and include “a rest day.” Enrolment numbers are range from 30-50 students. Anthony Brady writes the first of many reviews for the local paper. Kevin McCarthy while taking his mother for a drive “finds” Lake School and brings Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo contingents including Simon Dillon and Sue Madden. David O’Brien (Lake School chaplain) attends his first Lake School, and Dennis Taberner becomes Lake School Treasurer.

Moyne Shire continues supporting the event as its major sponsor. Lake School B-B-Q is held at Koroit Gardens and first Lake School photo is taken at Koroit Convent.

Consolidating years 2003-2008

In July 2003 Billy Moran is inducted as the Inagural Legend of the Lake by Irish Ambassador, Declan Kelly, at Micky Bourke’s Hotel. Kelly describes the event as – “My best night in Australia.” Later, Martha McEvoy, “Cultural Attache” to Embassy of Ireland inducts Fay and Morgan McAlinden and Vince Brophy as legends. Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill perform a master class and concert at Koroit Theatre.

Dennis OKeeffe’s Songwriter Class becomes a feature event at Lake School with concerts of up to 35 songwriters. Memorable songs from the period include Martin McKenna’s “Three Fine Sons,” Peter Blenkiron’s, “Child Behind the Door,” Gary Rose’s “Trucks of Koroit” Ron Milligan’s “Listen, listen listen” (which won a Port Fairy Peace and Tolerance Song Award) as well contributions by Dean Spalding, Vera Hermann, Marg Collins and Clare Milesi. Regular attendance by Cookson, Meagher, Dundas, Egan, Argall, Belfrage and Walsh families among others, create a “family atmosphere” at Lake School. Enlargened Kids Productions lead by Barry Peters and Teresa O’Brien feature “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” and a Tower Hill Project. Koroit resident, Leamon Chambers becomes President of the Koroit, and Margie Brophy becomes Lake School Treasurer.

Maria Forde becomes Lake School singing tutor, Paddy Fitzgerald accordion tutor and Session Leader, Ewen Baker fiddle tutor, Lynnelle Moran flute tutor, and Jack Brennan uilleann pipes tutor. Una McAlinden, later Portarlington National Celtic Festival Director, tutors Kids Bodhran. Enrolment numbers top 100 for the first time, and Koroit Theatre becomes the venue for the Grande Ceildhe which becomes a huge, almost unmanageable, event.

Georg Diegmann and Vicki Thorpe begin “egg and bacon breakfasts” at Koroit and Tower Hill Caravan Park, and Vicki later becomes KCDA President. Port Fairy Folk Festival becomes a major sponsor of Lake School. A legacy from deceased accordion player, Maity Swallow, creates the Maity Swallow Award, which is awarded to Mischa Hermann in 2008 and Prue McKechnie in 2009.


Expanding Years 2008-2013

In 2007 bodhran tutor, Ade Kelly suggests a Youth Band Project which leads to the Paddy O’Neill Award and Stars On The Lake. In 2008 Ted Egan, legendary NT singer and songwriter, comes to Koroit to work with Paddy O’Neill band, Rant. Mary Bourke’s poem “The Humble Spud” written for the 150th Koroit celebrations in 2003 becomes the inspiration for The Spud Poets Award.

The first Spud Poets Award staged at the Commercial Hotel in 2008 attracts 25 contestant poets from as far as Canberra, Mildura and Tasmania and the second Spud Poets Award Night features a concert by Marcia Howard. Mark and Lisa McDonnell, who at the time are running a session at Flanagan’s Hotel in Collingwoood, are invited to be the Lake School Slow Session tutors. Lake School supports The Friends of St Brigids in a community campaign to raise funds to save St Brigids Church and Lake School returns to Crossley Hall with a Family “Op Shop” Ceildhe and a concert featuring Scottish fiddlers Simon Bradley and Anna-Wendy Stevenson. Ceildihes are also held at Illowa Hall, and sessions are held at Kirkstall. A rebuilt Koroit and District Primary School becomes a major Lake School venue and the Lake School program expands to include mandolin, ukelele, Irish language, harp, Youth Program (newsletter and film making), Pub Songs, and James Joyce Readers Group.

The James Joyce Readers perform a three minute version of “Ulysess.” The Youth program makes a “zombie” film. To mark ten years of the Lake School “A Welcome to Country” is staged as part of the Grande Ceilidhe, and Melbourne fiddle player, Dan Bourke, from a early settlement Koroit family, is invited to perform a Master Class. Lake School Art Exhibition Launches are held including work by Brenda Grimshaw, Therese Supple, Mem Taberner and Deirdre O’Reilly. Enrolments usually around 150 are affected by some years of hot weather, but in 2013 enrolments reach 197. Lou Hesterman and “Ozzie Osborne” record Lake School sessions and songs, and create a collection at the Koroit Historical Society with archivist, Kathy Baulch. Jim and Fiona McAlinden and family attend first lake School and Jim later sets up Lake School Try Booking site, Facebook page and becomes KCDA President.

Venues used include The Blackwood Rooms, Presbyterian Hall, St Patrick’s Community Room, Koroit Railway Station, Koroit Football and Netball Club, Koroit Scout Hall, Koroit Senior Citizens Hall, Koroit Country Bakehouse and The House of Healing – 123 Commercial Rd. Nineteen members of the Belfrage family are featured on the front page of the Warrnambool Standard in a family photo at Koroit Gardens. Regular Lake School photos are taken outside Koroit Historical Society, and Lake School Code of Conduct is written.

Lake School launches are held outside Koroit – in Portarlington, Melbourne and in 2015 in Apollo Bay. Sue Madden begins designing the Lake School printed program, Marie Brouder becomes Lake School dance tutor, Christy Cooney Pub Songs tutor and Dennis Taberner 5-string Banjo tutor.


Recent Years 2013-2015

In 2014 Lake School enrolment numbers top 200 – with 228 in 2014 and 235 in 2015. Lake School administration and volunteers grow as a result of the expanded program. In 2014 Felix and Christine Meagher, Margie Brophy, Vicki Thorpe and Jim McAlinden form Lake School Production Management Team. Cello, African music, Art Shed, Blues and Bluegrass Session, Dennis O’Keeffe Memorial Songwriters Session and Irish breadmaking are added to the program, and in 2015 Wolf Heidecker directs “Beyond Tower Hill,” a musical staged at Crossley Hall which is written, cast, rehearsed and staged within the week of the 2015 Lake School.

Feature concerts including Saorise and Tolka (who began as a Stars On the Lake Band – Six At The Crossroads). The Lake School Facebook page has over 700 likes and regularly circulates information about celtic music and local events. A new Lake School is staged in Numurkah, VIC in October 2014, and is repeated in October 2015. Maton Guitars become a new major sponsor of Lake School, Koroit.

Book for 2025

We are looking forward to next year's Lake School in Koroit, Victoria from 2nd to 7th January 2025.

Book for 2025

Book for 2025

We are looking forward to next year's Lake School in Koroit, Victoria from 2nd to 7th January 2025.

Book for 2025