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

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.

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.

Celebrating Leon

Some of the leading figures on the British folk scene will take part in an international online celebration of the music of Leon Rosselson (pictured above). Martin Carthy, Billy Bragg, Nancy Kerr, Martin Simpson and Sandra Kerr – as well as Leon, himself – are among the many artists who will celebrating Leon’s life and work over six decades, creating a sound track for unsung heroes and unspeakable scoundrels.

This online event, Turning Silence into Song: The Music of Leon Rosselson,  will provide an opportunity to revisit his classic songs or be introduced to one you never heard before.

Each of the following artists will perform one song written by Leon Rosselson:

  • Frankie Armstrong (UK)
  • Billy Bragg (UK)
  • Rick Burkhardt (US)
  • Martin Carthy (UK)
  • Russ Chandler (UK)
  • Barbara Dane (US)
  • Chris Foster (Iceland)
  • Robb Johnson (UK)
  • Reem Kelan (UK)
  • Nancy Kerr (UK)
  • Sandra Kerr (UK)
  • Charlie King (US)
  • Leon Rosselson (UK)
  • Martin Simpson (UK)
  • Dean Stevens (US)
  • Elijah Wald (US)

This live Zoom concert, sponsored by The People’s Music Network, is totally free to the public. Donations to support PMN’s year round work of presenting workshops, conferences, and songswaps are gratefully accepted.

Members of the People’s Music Network may register for free. Non-members will receive the Zoom meeting links as soon as they register after any contribution to People’s Music Network of $2 or more.

Registration will not be required to tune in to the free livestream on the People’s Music Network Youtube page. But those who register will receive an automatic reminder about the show with the option to tune in via Zoom.

In the early days of the folk revival, Leon Rosselson was a member of the Galliards with whom he made numerous radio and television broadcasts and concert appearances. He started writing songs seriously (and humorously) in the early 1960s and hasn’t stopped since.

His early songs were topical-satirical (some of them were featured on the BBC TV show, That Was The Week That Was) but he broadened out from there, absorbing different influences, from music hall to French realist song, and experimenting with different song forms.

His song, The World Turned Upside Down, has been recorded and popularised by, among others, Dick Gaughan and Billy Bragg (who took it into the pop charts in 1985) and has been sung on numerous demonstrations in Britain and the USA.

His Ballad of a Spycatcher, ridiculing the ban on Peter Wright’s book, went into the Indie Singles charts in 1987 in a version backed by Billy Bragg and the Oyster Band.

Rosselson has performed in every conceivable venue around the country and toured North America, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and Australia. He has written songs and scripts for Inter-Action’s Dogg’s Troupe and the Fun Art Bus, songs for a stage production at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, of They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and shows for performance with Roy Bailey and Frankie Armstrong, including the anti-nuclear No Cause for Alarm.
In addition to writing songs for children and giving children’s concerts in both Britain and the USA, he has had seventeen children’s books published. His first book, Rosa’s Singing Grandfather, published by Puffin, was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal in 1991.
A stage show based on his children’s story, The Greatest Drummer In The World, was premiered in London in December 2002. His latest books are Pumpkin’s Downfall and Home Is A Place Called Nowhere. 
Martin Carthy
Sandra Kerr
Billy Bragg
Nancy Kerr
Martin Simpson

Belfast Song Gathering with Len Graham

Len Graham

This year’s Belfast Song Gathering will take place on Friday May 13 and Saturday May 14. The annual celebration of Ulster songs and singing is organised by Belfast Traditional Music and Dance Society in collaboration with An Droichead Arts Centre.

The gathering begins on Friday evening in the American Bar in Dock Street where the Belfast Singing Circle will host a singing session from 9pm.

On Saturday, former All-Ireland under-18 singing champion, Katie Boyle, will host a special singing workshop for families and children in the Green Room at the Black Box in Hill Street from 11am.

The Green Room is also the venue for Len Graham’s presentation entitled It’s of My Rambles at 1pm.

After lunch, the gathering will reassemble upstairs in the Sunflower Bar in Union Street at 4pm for another feast of singing hosted by the Nightingale Singing Session.

Each event in this year’s gathering is free of charge. All singers and listeners are welcome.

Another fine album you’ve gotten me into!

John C. Reilly (right) as Oliver Hardy, with Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel
(Photo by Nick Wall, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)

In early 2019 on a visit to Ireland to promote Stan and Ollie – the film which he headlined with Steve Coogan – the American actor, John C Reilly, struck up a friendship with Séamus Begley, based on their mutual love of Irish songs. When their friendship was renewed later that year in Los Angeles, as John joined Séamus and Téada bandmate, Oisín Mac Diarmiada, on stage at the final date of their Christmas tour, the germ of an idea for a unique collaboration on the next Téada album began to take root.

Pandemic restrictions made the process of recording John’s vocals trickier than normal, but everything fell into place in 2021 when John found a suitable recording studio in Los Angeles to record the Percy French classic, Eileen Óg. On the album, John’s striking vocal tones are blended with the subtle sensitivity of Séamus’ singing to deliver a beautifuilly crafted arrangement.

Reilly’s growing engagement with Ireland was further cemented last month when he was the official International Guest of Honour at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin. And according to Séamus Begley, he is likely to be seen even more frequently in this country in future: “Now after finding a house of his dreams there, it looks like John C will be spending more time in his beloved Kerry and I look forward to some more late-night singing sessions and revelry in the local hostelries.”

Hollywood actor John C. Reilly featured on new album by Téada.

Coiscéim Coiligh – As the Days Brighten – due for release next month in May – will be Téada’s sixth studio album and will mark a musical partnership that has not merely endured but thrived for 21 years and has brought the band to concert platforms and festivals throughout Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and Australasia.

Available for sale (CD format) and digital download now at and,

For details of track listings, etc, see

Nós Nua to perform Mohsen’s world premiere for Drogheda

The world premiere of Causeway, a specially commissioned work by award-winning Scottish musician, Mohsen Amini, will be performed by Nós Nua – the Louth Youth Folk Orchestra. Delayed by two years because of the pandemic, the premiere will finally take place on on May 1 in Drogheda’s Barbican Centre as part of the Drogheda Arts Festival.

Inspired by the legend of the Giant’s Causeway, Causeway celebrates the cultural connections between Scotland and Ireland. As well as the premiere, the event will see a special performance by concertina virtuoso, Mohsen Amini, along with award-winning fiddler, Bene Morris, his bandmate in the trio, Talisk. The pair will be joined by Fermoy piper, Ryan Murphy, who is a member of Mohsen’s “other band” – the renwned instrumental quintet, Ìmar. Completing the line-up for this special concert will be guitarist, Shane McCartan.

Founded in in 2017 as a joint initiative of Music Generation Louth and Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Nós Nua draws its membership from across Louth, Meath, Monaghan, Cavan and Armagh. Nós Nua was the first folk orchestra to perform at the Festival of Youth Orchestras in the National Concert Hall, Dublin. They have performed on TG4’s Fleadh TV, at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Drogheda and recently recorded music for John Creedon’s Atlas of Ireland.

The Causeway project is funded by the Irish Arts Council through the Young Ensemble Scheme.


Mohsen Amini

Online Sean-Nós Workshops start on Saturday

Singers interested in polishing their sean-nós technique can avail of a series of online workshops being organised by Comhaltas in Britain.

The three online workshops will each cover a different regional style – Donegal, Conamara and Munster – and each led by a leading exponent, Diane Cannon, Caitríona Ní Cheannabháin and Clare Horgan respectively.

Diane Cannon
Caitríona Ní Cheannabháin
Clare Horgan

Places on the workshops, which can be booked through Eventbrite, are free to Comhaltas members – while for non-members there is a charge of £12 (plus booking fee).

The first workshop on the Donegal style with Diane Cannon takes place on Saturday, April 23; the second on the Conamara style with Caitríona Ní Cheannabháin on Sunday, May 22; and the third on the Munster style with Clare Horgan on Sunday, June 5.

For more information, see:


More nominations for Rhiannon, Francesco and John Francis

Fresh from their recent Grammy success for Best Folk Album, Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi have been named among the nominees for Album of the Year by Folk Alliance International (FAI) for their award-winning album, They’re Calling Me Home, recorded in Dublin last year.

Dubliner John Francis Flynn (who achieved a double success at the 2021 RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards for Best Emerging Artist and Best Folk Singer) has now also receieved a FAI nomination for Artist of the Year. The Skippers Alley alumnus has achieved international recognition following the release of his widely acclaimed album, I Would Not Live Always.

Rhiannon Giddens (right) and Francesco Turrisi
John Francis Flynn
Sarah Jarosz
The winners of the three categories – Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Artist of the Year – will be decided by the FAI’s voting membership (with the ballot due to close on April 15). The live awards show will be held May 18 in Kansas City, Missouri, on the opening night of FAI’s thirty-fourth Annual Conference, and will be broadcast online.

The nominees in each category are:

Album of the Year

  • Outside Child by Allison Russell
  • The Fray by John Smith
  • They’re Calling Me Home by Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi
  • Wary + Strange by Amythyst Kiah
  • Un Canto por México, Vol. 2 by Natalia Lafourcade
Song of the Year 
  • Call Me A Fool by Valerie June
  • Changemakers by Crys Matthews
  • On Solid Ground by Reggie Harris
  • Painted Blue by Sarah Jarosz
  • We Believe You by Diana Jones
Artist of the Year
  • Allison Russell
  • Arooj Aftab
  • John Francis Flynn
  • Kalani Pe’a
  • The Longest Johns

The nominees in the Album of the Year category include three members of the quartet who collaborated on the acclaimed 2019 album, Songs of Our Native Daughters, and subsequent concert tours.

As well as Rhiannon Giddens, the nominees also include Amythyst Kiah (for Wary + Strange) and Allison Russell (for Outside Child). The missing ‘Daughter’ is Leyla McCalla.

Pictured right are: (from left) Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla, Allison Russell and Amythyst Kiah.

Our Native Daughters

In addition to the three categories determined by membership vote, the FAI also makes a number of other awards:

  • Lifetime Achievement,
  • the People’s Voice,
  • the Spirit of Folk,
  • the Rising Tide and
  • the Clearwater.

Three Lifetime Achievement Awards – named in honour of Elaine Weissman – are presented each year to honour the cultural impact of major folk music figures – one living, one legacy, and one business/academic. This year’s recipients are:

  • accordionist Flaco Jiménez,
  • the late singer-songwriter, Nanci Griffith;
  • the Denver-based folk music centre,
    Swallow Hill Music.

The People’s Voice Award, which is presented to an individual who unashamedly embraces social and political commentary in their creative work and public careers, is to be presented to Jason Mraz, the multi-platinum Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter known for his positivity and a consistent attention to conservation, human rights, and LGBTQIA+ issues. Jason will join an honour roll that includes past winners: Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Buffy Saint Marie, Ani Difranco, and Bruce Cockburn.

Jackson Browne
Bonnie Raitt
Buffy Saint Marie
Nanci Griffith
Bruce Cockburn

The Spirit of Folk Awards celebrate people and organisations actively involved in the promotion and preservation of folk music through their creative work, community building, and demonstrated leadership. The 2022 recipients will include:

  • Eugene Rodriguez of Los Cenzontles – musician, educator, and documentary producer;
  • Lilli Lewis – composer, producer, performing artist, and Vice President and Head of A&R of Louisiana Red Hot Records;
  • Gaelynn Lea – NPR Tiny Desk Contest winner, musician, and disability rights activist;
  • Erin Benjamin – President & CEO, Canadian Live Music Association;
  • Amado Espinoza – Bolivian-American multi-instrumentalist, composer and instrument maker; and
  • Shain Shapiro – founder, Sound Diplomacy.

The FAI’s Rising Tide Award will be presented to Mali Obomsawin – the award-winning Smithsonian Folkways artist from Odanak Wabanaki First Nation, who is also a member of the band Lula Wiles, a journalist; and the founder and Executive Director of the non-profit Bomazeen Land Trust. Launched in 2021, this award celebrates a new generation (under 30) artist who inspires others by embodying the values and ideals of the folk community through their creative work, community role, and public voice.

Planet Bluegrass will receive the Clearwater Award which is presented to a festival that prioritises environmental stewardship and demonstrates public leadership in sustainable event production.

About Folk Alliance International
Folk Alliance International (FAI) was founded in 1989 to connect folk music leaders aiming to sustain the community and genre. Today FAI is the leading international voice for folk music with a network of more than 3,000 members: a worldwide community of artists, agents, managers, labels, publicists, arts administrators, venues, festivals, and concert series presenters.

FAI produces the world’s largest conference for the folk music industry, the International Folk Music Awards (IFMAs), an Artist-in-Residence programme, the Folk ExChange market development program, the Ethno USA gathering (on behalf of JM International), community outreach, and a Finest Folk concert series. FAI values diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, strives to ensure gender parity in all its programming, celebrates multiple languages and cultures, and actively welcomes participation from marginalised, disenfranchised, and underrepresented communities.

FAI defines folk broadly as “the music of the people” (reflective of any community they are from), and programmes a diverse array of sub-genres including, but not limited to, Appalachian, Americana, Blues, Bluegrass, Celtic, Cajun, Global Roots, Hip-Hop, Old-Time, Singer-Songwriter, Spoken Word, Traditional, Zydeco, and various fusions.

Folk Album Grammy for Rhiannon and Francesco

Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi have won the Grammy for Folk Album of the year for their stunning album, They’re Calling Me Home, conceived and produced during lockdown in their adopted Irish home.

The critically acclaimed album, released in 2021, showcases Gidden’s amazing vocal prowess and Turrisi’s wonderful instrumental versatility in a remarkable collection of songs – some traditional and some original – around the themes of home and death – reflecting two of the major concerns of the pandemic – especially for those separated from loved ones as both the American-born Giddens and the Italian-born Turrisi were.

Rhiannon Giddens (right) and Francesco Turrisi

“Exploring the emotions brought up by the moment, Giddens and Turrisi decamped to Hellfire, a small studio on a working farm outside of Dublin, to record these songs over six days.”

Between the classic bluegrass title track which opens the album and the great gospel standard, Amazing Grace,  which closes it, the duo present an eclectic musical experience delivered with profound emotional power and great technical accomplishment. These tracks include Monteverdi’s Si Dolce è’l Tormento – reflecting Giddens’ previous operatic training – the folk classic When I Was in My Prime, the old time song Black As Crow, the gospel blues O Death, the Italian lullbaby Nenna Nenna and the remarkable original song, Avalon, which was also nominated for a Grammy for Best American Roots Song.

Credit, too, to Mayo flute player and piper, Emer Mayock, who lends her talents to Black As Crow.

The Grammy is the second for Giddens: her first came as a member of The Carolina Chocolate Drops. It is also the second time that Giddens and Turrisi have been nominated as a duo. Their first album together, there is no Other, also eceived a Grammy nomination. It was also recorded in Dublin.