Inaugural Galway Folk Festival kicks off

The inaugural Galway Folk Festival which kicks off this evening brings some of the finest names in contemporary Irish folk music to the City of the Tribes with an extensive line-up for the five-day event including recent birthday boy, Andy Irvine,  with Donal Lunny (pictured above) Hothouse Flowers, Villagers, Séan Keane, The Henry Girls and John Francis Flynn as the headliners for the festival’s key sessions.

Many of the shows will take place on stages in and around Monroe’s Live in Dominick Street Upper, Galway. Among the other artists also announced for Galway Folk Festival are Zoë Conway and John McIntyre. Emma Langford, Aoife Scott, The Frank and Walters (acoustic), The Frank & Walters (acoustic), Peter Broderick (Efterklang),  Brídín, The Raines, .

The festival is also committed to shine a spotlight on some exciting emerging talent, including Lorraine Nash, Robert John Ardiff, I Draw Slow, A Smyth, Stevie Appleby, Laura Duff, Woven Kin, Seba Safe, Sonny Casey, King Pallas and Les SalAmandass.

The running order:

  • Wednesday evening: Monroe’s Mainstage: Villagers (acoustic), Peter Broderick and Brídín
  • Thursday evening: Monroe’s Mainstage: John Francis Flynn, I Draw Slow and Ultan Conlon
  • Thursday evening: Monroe’s Backstage: Dani Larkin, Woven Kin and Sonny Casey
  • Friday evening: Main Stage: Andy Irvine & Donal Lunny, The Raines and Emma Langford
  • Friday evening: Backstage: Zoë Conway & John Mc Intyre, King Pallas and Robert John Ardiff
  • Saturday Afternoon: Mainstage: Seán Keane
  • Saturday Evening: Mainstage: Hothouse Flowers, Frank & Walters (acoustic) and Aoife Scott
  • Saturday Evening: Backstage: Lorraine Nash, Stevie Appleby and A. Smyth
  • Sunday Afternoon: Mainstage: The Henry Girls and Les SalAmandas
  • Sunday Evening: Closing Party: Rowan, Clare Sands, Seba Safe and Laura Duff 


Tickets for the event – which include a five-day pass or seperate admission to each show – with two shows (afternoon and evening) on Saturday and Sunday – are available from

In addition to the ticketed event, the Cuppa TV stage, located beside Monroe’s, will feature a number of free performances on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The Saturday gig will feature Cyril O’Donoghue and Blackie O’Connell, Katie Theasby, Dave Sanders and Felim Ó Caoileáin, and Sonny Casey. The Sunday show will be headlined by Ger O’Donnell and Trevor Sexton, supported by the Davies Brothers and Dunluvly.


The Henry Girls

The Leitrim Larks Project

Leitrim has a rich and varied tradition of song which has been passed down through generations. While some of these songs remain well known, many are no longer performed and survive in manuscripts and archives.

The Leitrim Larks Project is being led by renowned traditional singer Fionnuala Maxwell and aims to celebrate, rediscover, and revive traditional songs from Leitrim by engaging both established singers across the County and by engaging and facilitating individual members of the public from across the County to discover and sing these Leitrim songs.

This webpage will be updated as the project progresses throughout 2022. If you are interested in taking part in this traditional singing project please contact the Heritage Officer: Sarah Malone, Email:, Tel: 071 9620005 Ext. 516

A video on Traditional Singing in Leitrim with Fionnuala Maxwell can be viewed at Traditional Singing in Leitrim video

Belfast Tradfest line-up finalised

Back with a bang after the hiatus caused by Covid, the summer edition of Belfast TradFest returns with a week packed full of traditional music, song and dance, featuring some of the best traditional musicians, singers and dancers from across these islands from July 23 to July 29.

“Belfast TradFest is a distinctive and progressive music festival which reflects and nourishes the traditional music of the whole community of the North, by representing both the Irish and Scots musical traditions,” explained Festival Director, Dónal O’Connor.

As always fans and students will be spoilt for choice in a festival schedule that runs morning, afternoon, evening and late night. Broadly speaking the mornings are devoted to the summer school, while the afternoons will feature five album launches and 31 workshops and lectures conducted by leading musicians and singers, including Bríd Harper, Steve Cooney, Muireaan Nic Amhlaoibh and Gradam award-winning musician Angelina Carbery.The evenings are about performances in concerts, céilí and sessions. Rounding off each day will be a ‘gig after the gigs’ in the festival club.

This year’s festival headliner is the Sharon Shannon Big Band at Ulster Hall on Friday July 29. Opening the show will be Hothouse Flowers’ frontman Liam Ó Maonlaí, performing a rare solo set with grand piano, bodhrán and tin whistle.

Cathy Jordan
Niamh Parsons
Síle Denvir

More Tradfest Highlights

The Fiddle Monologues is a play about four women from 1679, 1789, 1889 and 1959 and their relationship with the violin (Sunday July 24 at The Black Box)

Cathy Jordan from Dervish appears with her trio, The Unwanted. (Sunday July 24 at The Black Box)

Song and Fiddle with Niamh Parsons and Graham Dunne along with TG4 Gradam Ceoil/Belfast City Council bursary recipient Sinead McKenna (Sunday July 24 at The John Hewitt)

Fiddles feature again in the Fiddle Concert in memory of Seán Maguire which will see performances by Bríd Harper, Jesse Smith, Dónal O’Connor, Ciarán Ó Maonaigh, Méabh O’Hare and others (Monday July 25 at the Duncairn).

A tribute to the Belfast Harp Festival of 1792 will feature leading harpist Máire Ní Chathasaigh, guitar virtuoso Steve Cooney and piper Brìghde Chaimbeul among others (Tuesday July 26 at Áras Mhic Reachtain)

With Fife and Drum explores the traditions of Scotland and Ireland with some of the world’s finest pipers and drummers including Alastair Roberts, Mike Smyth, Gareth McLees and Tommy Hayes (Tuesday July 26 at Strand Arts Centre)

Ceoil Beirte features two husband-and-wife duos – Ciarán Ó Maonaigh and Caitlín Nic Gabhann and Barry Kerr and Síle Denvir – among others in a celebration of duet playing (Wednesday July 27 at An Droichead)

TradFest partners with Belfast Pride to host the Pride Céilí with music by Ciaran Kelly and friends and with dances called by Ronan Eastwood (Wednesday July 27 at Oh Yeah Music Centre)

Flutopia brings together leading traditional flute players and whistlers including former Gradam winners Mary Bergin and Harry Bradley (Thursday July 28 at The Deer’s Head)

The Sunflower Folk Club will host two emerging artists Dáibhidh Stiúbhard and Miadhachlughain O’Donnell (Thursday July 28 at the Sunflower)

Tá Bean In Éirinn will celebrate some of Ireland’s finest female traditional musicians, singers and dancers, including Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Caitlín Nic Gabhann and recent TG4 Gradam Ceoil recipient Edwina Guckian (Thursday July 28 at Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich).

Máire Ní Chathasaigh
Mary Bergin
Caitlín Nic Gabhann

Of course Tradfest would not be Tradfest without the opportunity to encounter many of the concert headliners in more informal musical sessions. So the Belfast TradFest Session Trail will encompass over 40 sessions in a wide range of venues – all with free admission. Also free are the album launches at Raidió Fáilte which will feature recent releases from Mairéad Walls; Dylan Pearse; Grainne Milner-McLoone; Brian Hughes and Dave Sheridan; and the Glengormley School of Traditional Music.

The festival programme also makes room for a special showing of the recent released film, Seán Ó Riada Mo Sheanathair, to be followed by questions and answers with the film’s presenter, Doireann Ní Ghlacáin, and director Feilimí O’Connor.

The TradFest Festival Club will also return to provide more music for the insomniacs among us from performers like Gino Lupari of Four Men and A Dog, Gerry ‘Banjo’ O’Connor, Damien Mullane and local trios, Briste and Tróda.

Running alongside the concerts, céilí and sessions is the summer school which includes daily masterclasses from 10am to 1pm from Monday July 25 to Friday July 29 at Ulster University, York Street. The summer school’s team of tutors is made up of internationally acclaimed performers with proven track records as teachers across music, song and dance. There are a range of classes to suit all ages and abilities from beginners to advanced. The impressive line-up of tutors includes:

  • Mary Bergin (tin whistle)
  • Tara Bingham (flute)
  • Harry Bradley (flute)
  • Kieran Brady (tin whistle)
  • Angelina Carbery (tenor banjo)
  • Brìghde Chaimbeul (small pipes)
  • Steve Cooney (guitar accompaniment)
  • Síle Denvir (harp)
  • Mary Dillon (traditional singing)
  • Alastair Donaghy (bagpies)
  • Edwina Guckian (sean nós dancing)
  • Bríd Harper (fiddle)
  • Tommy Hayes (bodhrán)
  • Barry Kerr (flute)
  • Brian McGrath (traditional piano)
  • Gareth McLees (snare drum and pipe band percussion)
  • Dave Munnelly (button accordion)
  • Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh (amhránaíocht)
  • Caitlín Nic Gabhann (concertina)
  • Máire Ní Chathasaigh (harp)
  • Doireann Ní Ghlacáin (fiddle)
  • Méabh O’Hare (fiddle)
  • Ciarán Ó Maonaigh (fiddle)
  • Sharon Shannon (button accordion, fiddle and tin whistle)
  • Jesse Smith (fiddle)
  • Mikie Smith (uilleann pipes)

The festival will also include a free art exhibition by Lorcan Vallely at the John Hewitt, a free fiddle and fife exhibition at Ulster University which will also host a free céilí called by Ronan Eastwood.

For bookings and more information about Belfast Tradfest, go to

New fleadh for Dublin’s Smithfield

Thomas MacCarthy
Sibéal Davitt
Cormac Begley

Smithfield Fleadh is Dublin’s newest family-friendly event addition to the city’s events calendar. This free, folk and traditional music event is taking place in Smithfield Square on June 18 and 19. The fleadh will kick off at midday and finish at 6pm both days.

Among the performers already confirmed for the event are two Gradam award winners: singer Thomas MacCarthy and fiddler Paddy Glackin. They will be joined by virtuoso concertina master Cormac Begley; the Irish-Iranian band, Navá; sean-nós dancer Sibéal Davitt; and the instrumental trio, The Dublin Lasses. Broadcaster and fiddle player Doireann Ní Ghlacáin will host proceedings on the main stage.

Various members of the Mulligan family will. be involved in a series of sessions in the Cobblestone Tent which will also include members of Ballyer Trad Hub.

The fleadh will also include an outdoor street performance area called ‘An Stáitsín Fánach’ which will stage performances from the Fingal Mummers; a piping session with Louise Mulcahy and friends; as well as a special presentation by The Night Before Larry Got Stretched called The Megaphone Project – a series of pop-up performances of Irish traditional song in the modern day inspired by the archival recordings of John Martin, a lively street singer who travelled around the fairs of Ireland in the 1950s.

In the festival tent (Puball Éigse) will include a celebration of the musical legacy of the Traveller community by Mickey Dunne  and friends. Na Píobairí Uilleann will also present a  ‘Try The Pipes’ workshop.

“We are thrilled to announce more than 20 acts will perform over the weekend,” said the Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland. “There will be a mix of music and dance for all ages to enjoy, and we also invite people to engage at a number of workshops scheduled. We hope people will come to Smithfield to experience this new event. We have a great programme for its first year and hope we can keep coming back every summer.”

For the full programme (which may be subject to change) check

Louise Mulcahy
Paddy Glackin
Doireann Glackin

Fleadh to go live in Mullingar at last

A Kind of Homecoming

The annual celebration of traditional music, song and dance, Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, will return as a fully live event in Mullingar from July 31-August 8, after a two-year hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The event makes a long overdue return to the County Westmeath town where Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann was founded in 1951. Having waited patiently to mark the seventieth anniversary, Mullingar is more than ready to welcome fleadh from Ireland and around the world to join the celebration which will be opened by President Michael D. Higgins.

At the heart of the Fleadh Cheoil are the multiplicity of competitions in music, song, dance and Comhrá Gaeilge involving qualifiers in various age categories from around the world. Another core element of the fleadh is Scoil Éigse, involving workshops, lectures and sessions.

As well as street performances and impromptu music sessions, performances will also take place on two ‘Gig Rigs’ – open air performance platforms and indoors in more conventional concert settings.

Among the artists already confirmed for the week are Martin Hayes and the Common Ground Ensemble, Sharon Shannon,  Daithí Gormley, Frankie Gavin and Catherine McHugh, Téada, Ímar, Séamus Begley, Seán Keane and Emmett Cahill, Anúna, the Kilfenora Céili Band, the Bridge Céili Band, Damien Mullane and Moxie.

Fleadh Executive Committee Chairperson Joe Connaire, has highlighted the fleadh’s huge potential for encouraging local initiative and community spirit within the host town. “We’re calling on as many locals as possible to get involved, whether it’s playing music, offering accommodation, volunteering or supporting official events. We want the excitement of the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann to be felt throughout the town.”

Martin Hayes
Sharon Shannon

Musical Doctors

Pictured (from left): Mary Bergin, Mary O’Hara, Andy Irvine, Mary Black, Paddy Glackin, Finbar Furey and Triona Ni Dhomhnaill (Photo UCD).

Some of our leading traditional musicians have been honoured by University College Dublin in recognition of their contribution to arts and culture.Performer and composer, Paul Brady, has been awarded the Ulysses Medal – the highest honour the university can bestow.

Previous recipients include poets Séamus Heaney and Thomas Kinsella; novelists Margaret Atwood and Edna O’Brien; as well as playwrights Frank McGuinness, Thomas Kilroy, Tom Murphy and Brian Friel.

For their commitment to Irish music and culture, and for playing a central role in helping to revive Irish folk music, a further seven musicians have received honorary doctorates from the university: Mary Bergin, Mary Black, Finbar Furey, Paddy Glackin, Andy Irvine, Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill and Mary O’Hara.

After the ceremony, the honourees were joined by guest Donal Lunny for a special  performance for an invited audience of 700.

Doctor Brennan, I presume

Meanwhile, in Dublin City University, Moya Brennan has been awarded an honorary doctorate in recognition  of her fifty-year-long commitment to performing and composing traditional and folk music.

Delivering the citation, Dr. Síle Denvir of DCU’s Scoil na Gaeilge, who is, herself, an accomplished musician and sean nós singer, said:

“Moya has an innate ability to find the heart of music, to reach the essence of a song or a tune, and to make the ordinary extraordinary. Her many accolades, including a Grammy and an Emmy, are testament to this. Moya has played on the greatest stages in the world with many, many famous singers and musicians, but her generosity of spirit and grounded connection with her roots always bring her back home to the stage her father carved out for her and for her siblings in Tábhairne Leo in Mín na Leice.”

Paul Brady
Moya Brennan and Dr. Síle Denvir of Dublin City University (Photo: Síle Denvir)

Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy returns in full

The fiftieth Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy will return in full and in-person in July when traditional musicians, singers, students and fans will descend upon Miltown Malbay, Mullagh, Quilty and Spanish Point for the week-long summer school. After a two-year hiatus necessitated by the Covid pandemic when a somewhat reduced summer school moved online, this year’s event – decidcated to the memory of WIllie Clancy (pictured above) – has been keenly anticipated.

Along with the usual instrument and dance classes, the week will also feature the evening recitals – each devoted to individual instruments like fiddle, harp, banjo,  concertina, button accordion, harmonica, uilleann pipes, whistle and flute along with sean-nós and step dancing and an afternoon of traditional singing in Irish and English. The artists confirmed to perform at the recitals reads like a who’s who of Irish traditional music and song.

As well as the instrumental recitals, the week will also includes three concerts – the Éire ‘s Alba celebration of the links between Gaelic Scotland and Scoil Samhraidh; the International Concert/Ceolchoirm Idirnáisiúnta featuring music, song and dance from Scotland, Wales, Britanny and Québec; and finally the Muiris Ó Rócháin Memorial Concert/Ceolchoirm Chuimhneacháin Muiris Ó Rócháin.

The céilithe also make a welcome return on seven nights of the summer school with a number of top bands on the programme including, the Kilfenora, the Tulla, the Brian Ború, the Dal gCais, the Taylor’s Cross, the Four Courts and the Abbey Trio.

Among the highlights of the week is this year’s Breandán Breathnach Memorial Lecture by Nicholas Carolan, the first Director of the Irish Traditional Music Archive, on the theme: When It All Started: The Traditional Music Landscape of 1973.

Another eagerly anticipated event is a tribute to the award-winning accordion master, Bobby Gardiner, which will be presented by traditional singer, musician and lecturer, Ciarán Ó Gealbháin.

Broadcaster and researcher, Harry Bradshaw, will consider the legacy of Bill Stapleton and the Irish Recording Company – some of which has been included on albums recently released by the ITMA.

Dr Paul Dooley and Ceri Owen Jones will reflect on the structures of Welsh medieval harp music and its parallels with Irish music traditions while Professor Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin from the University, Montréal will present New France to La Belle Province: Québec’s Traditional Soundscapes. Gearóid’s lecture will be followed by a screening of his film, The Lost Children of the Carricks.

Two more film screenings complete the programme – the first, a documentary on the life and music of renowned fiddler Seán Keane, and the second, a further screening of the recently released Dark Horse on the Wind, a feature-length documentary on the life and legacy of Dublin singer-songwriter, Liam Weldon. The screening will be presented by director, Myles O’Reilly, and producer, Lorraine Kennedy,

Laoise Kelly
Seán Keane
Louise Mulcahy
Bobby Gardiner
Máire Ní Chéallachair
Jack Talty

Willie Week links up with Harp Ireland

Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy and Cruit Éireann/Harp Ireland have established a new partnership to support the rapidly developing interest in Irish harping at the annual summer school.

Cruit Éireann is to award a scholarship for Irish harpers to attend the school’s harp workshops, which have been a feature of the Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy since 2007. Led by Kathleen Loughnane and supported by a line-up of renowned harper tutors, the workshops have grown in popularity in recent years.

“The harp recitals at the summer school have become a major attraction for the general public and are now considered one of the highlights of the week’s programme of events while the number of students participating has grown steadily since we began in 2007,” explained SSWC Drector, Harry Hughes. “This initiative to incentivise attendance by Irish harpers and to acknowledge the very positive work being done by both organisations is timely and we are delighted to be part of it”.

“Irish harping is now firmly integrated in the Irish traditional music world and recognised and celebrated internationally because of the excellence of its harpers and its UNESCO status. We welcome this opportunity” said Aibhlín McCrann, Chair of Cruit Éireann/Harp Ireland (pictured above). “The collaboration between Cruit Éireann/Harp Ireland and Scoil Samhraidh Wille Clancy will ensure that harp studies and practice will remain central to the Irish traditional music heritage so effectively reflected by Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy, and it will operate to our mutual benefit” she added.

Peggy to celebrate birthday at Kilkenny gig

Peggy Seeger will celebrate her 87th birthday on June 17, during her Irish tour. On the day in question she is due to perform in Kilkenny with her son, Calum MacColl, as part of the tour to promote her recent album, First Farewell.

The tour, which begins on Thursday, June 2, will see the duo play fourteen dates in eighteen days. It continues an ongoing relationship with Ireland which began on her visit in 1956 – when the young Peggy Seeger met Sarah Makem, Paddy Tunney and the Clancy family.

The Tour Dates:

June 2: Hawks Well Theatre, Sligo
June 3: Townhall Theatre, Cavan
June 4: Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge, Co. Kildare
June 6: St John’s Arts Centre, Listowel, Co. Kerry (afternoon concert)
June 7: St John’s Arts Centre, Listowel (evening concert)
June 8: Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick
June 9: Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire
June 11: Róisín Dubh, Galway
June 12: Doolin Folk Festival, Doolin, Co. Clare
June 15: Séamus Heaney Homeplace, Bellaghy, Co. Derry
June 16: Black Box, Belfast
June 17: Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny
June 18: Source Arts Centre, Thurles
June 19: The White Horse, Ballincollig, Co. Cork

Peggy Seeger

(Photo: Vicki Sharp)

Liam O’Flynn award for Louise Mulcahy

Acclaimed piper and flute player, Louise Mulcahy, is to be the recipient of this year’s Liam O’Flynn Award – selected jointly by the Arts Council in the Republic and the National Concert Hall in Dublin since 2019.

Louise was present for the announcement at the National Concert Hall with NCH Chief Executive, Robert Read, and Maureen Kennelly, Director of the Arts Council (pictured above by Julien Bernal/National Concert Hall).

The award which honours the memory of one of Ireland’s greatest ever pipers includes a bursary of €15,000 and a residency at the National Concert Hall where Louise will be encouraged to engae with other musicians and to develop new work with a view to performance later in her one-year tenure.

Louise’s accomplishments as a musician has already led to Na Piobiarí Uilleann entrusting her with a set of uilleann pipes which were previously owned by Liam O’Flynn. So it is particuarly appropriate that she would now receive this award named after this imspirational figure.

Hailing from a highly talented musical family in West Limerick, Louise has not only mastered two instruments, but has also conducted considerable research into the hidden history of women pipers that has culminated in the remarkable dicumentary, Mná na bPíob.

At the announcement of the award, Director of the Arts Council, Maureen Kennelly, described Louise Mulcahy as “an accomplished artist dedicated to exploring and celebrating the music of Liam O’Flynn. Louise is a custodian of Liam’s Uilleann pipes and I am delighted that this award will give her the opportunity to further develop her interest in his work.”

Concert Hall Chief Executive, Robert Read, praised Mulcahy as “an extraordinarily accomplished musician and advocate for female pipers and pipe music.”

Thanking the National Concert Hall and the Arts Council of Ireland for the honour, Louise described the award as “a unique and special artistic opportunity.”

“I look forward to researching, collaborating, innovating, performing and bringing new material to the performance platform at the National Concert Hall this year,” she said. “During my time at the National Concert Hall, I will honour Liam O’Flynn’s legacy, memory and music.”

The previous recipients of the Liam O’Flynn Award are concertina player and composer, Jack Talty, in 2021, piper, flute player, guitarist, singer, composer and painter, Barry Kerr, in 2020, and harper and composer Úna Monaghan in 2019.