Festivals in Ireland

Anne Brady
Anne Brady

Anne Brady runs the traditional Irish music site, Findtradfolk. Here she highlights some of the festivals taking place around Ireland this summer.

There is a plethora of festivals taking place around Ireland this year, particularly during the summer. Just last weekend there was the Inishbofin Arts Festival, Feile Chois Chuain, Feile Oriel, Feile na gCuach and Clancy’s of Athy had a small trad festival in their pub. That’s some selection to choose from but don’t worry if you didn’t get to any of them there are plenty more you can play, sing, lilt or dance at!

I’ve always loved festivals. Arriving into these festivities you can sense the excitement in the air. There is always a great buzz about the place. Music is coming from all directions, there’s a smell of chips with loads of salt and vinegar in the air, someone walks by with a fiddle on their back and candy floss in their hand. For me, it’s a great, summery feeling.

One of the first festivals I went to was Willie Clancy in Miltown Malby. I was six and the family camped down on the beach. I never got back to it again until last year. I decided to camp again but unfortunately due to a lack of organisation skills I forgot the tent. Anyone that may have been at Willie Clancy last year may remember that the Friday was a particularly wet day. So arriving down to Clare, after a very long drive, at 11 o’ clock at night and wading through a wet field to realise the main components of your tent are missing was, will we say, upsetting!

However always one to make the most out of bad situations so I went on into the town drank and played music and slept in the car! The next day was a beautiful day. Sunny, bright with beautiful blue skies (you really get this full whack waking up in a car!).

Straight to the tourist office and they sorted us out with the loveliest B+B for the next night. That day was wonderful. Because of the lovely weather there was a great atmosphere and lots of music out on the streets. I’ll probably go back again this year but there are lots of others to choose from:

The Baltimore Fiddle Fair takes place in May starting from the 9th and finishing up on the 13th. This festival has been on the go since 1992. It was started when Declan McCarthy tried to encourage visiting musician Nigel Kennedy to come visit his pub. Apparently he didn’t but the festival is still on the go attracting musicians from all over the world to the west Cork region. They’ve had many acclaimed musicians and bands play at it over the years such as Sharon Shannon, Four men and a Dog, Frankie Gavin, Lunasa, Dervish and Paul Brady to name just a few. If you want more information check out their website.

Also coming up in May is Skerries Trad Weekend. A notable weekend, which has established itself as the trad festival of Irelands East Coast. Skerries is a lovely seaside town with lots of cultural attractions for any visiting tourists such as The Daffodil Art Gallery and Skerries Mill however, the festival would definitely keep everyone occupied. They have lots of workshops in Uileann pipes, fiddle, flute and set dancing. All weekend there are bands such as The Bonneymen, musicians like Caitlin Nic Gabhann and of course sessions a’ plenty! Have a look at their website for more information. Also coming up in May in the Cos Cos Sean-Nos Dance Festival in Sligo, Fleadh Nua in Clare not to mention the county fleadhs that will be ongoing.

When I started this blog I thought I could mention a few festivals throughout the summer but now I think it will have to be a blog for each month of festivals! We have lots of festivals on our calendar. What festival will you be heading to? Maybe your going to a trad festival in another country, we’d love to hear about it!