*Penalties could determine if Conor McGrath & Cratloe get past Clonlara this weekend. Photograph: Mark Hayes
* Dancing to the music of Kilfenora Céili Band at last year’s festival – Photo by Martin Connolly
FROM April 26-29, Kilfenora will stage its 11th annual traditional music festival, a series that commenced in 2009 with the 100th anniversary of the Kilfenora Céilí Band. With great concerts, céilís, some cracking CD launches and pub sessions, it’s a wonderful line-up.
Sessions in Kilfenora’s pubs occur from Friday to Monday, with the cream of musicians from Clare and beyond. Details of featured players will be published on www.kilfenoraclare.com.
The Singers’ night on Friday evening (Linnanes pub, 9.30pm) will gather together some of the finest and most humorous singers and storytellers, hosted by Noirin Lynch.
The main concert (Saturday, Kilfenora Hall, 7.00pm) will feature Ireland’s top fiddle maestro, Frankie Gavin, and his celebrated Roaring ‘20s Irish Orchestra. This includes Monica Brennan, a talented young singer from Connemara (one half of The Brennan Sisters). The concert will be opened by this year’s winner of an award from the Meitheal Summer School to play at the Kilfenora Trad Festival – the current All-Ireland U18 Fiddle champion, Naoise Kettle. Full details about the musicians and where to buy tickets (€20) are listed on the website.
At a Variety Concert (Kilfenora Hall, Friday evening), Kilfenora Comhaltas will also feature an array of fine musical talent, young and old. Tickets are available on the door.
Saturday afternoon will include two special free events. First, at 1pm a ‘Riches of Clare’ event in Kilfenora’s historic cathedral with some of North Clare’s talented musicians. Then, at 2.30 pm a special tribute to the late Tommy Peoples – who was a former member of Kilfenora Céilí Band – hosted by his daughter Siobhan, including a fiddle session (Linnanes Pub).
There will be céilís on Saturday night with The Star of Munster Céilí Band (Vaughans Barn, 10.00pm) and on Sunday with the Four Courts Céilí Band (Vaughans Barn, 9.00pm).
There will be several CD launches over the weekend – the Lisdoonvarna singer and humourist Peter Casey’s “Out in the Day” on Friday (8.45pm, Linnanes pub); red-hot banjo player Stevie Dunne’s “Live at the Crosskeys” on Saturday (6pm in Nagles pub); and renowned Clare accordionist Josephine Marsh’s “Music in the Frame” on Sunday at 1pm (Vaughans pub).
A Trad for Teens workshop takes place on Sunday (11.45) in Vaughans Barn, led by Josephine Marsh. This follows a mass with traditional music at St Fachanans Church.
And, as in previous years, on Sunday afternoon (3pm), the big event is the great Kilfenora Céilí Band playing for a free céilí in the Square – dancers and spectators welcome. They will be preceded at 2.00 pm by the current young Kilfenora Comhaltas Céilí Band.
Check www.kilfenoraclare.com and the Kilfenora festival Facebook page for further information about the festival and all the artists appearing.
Visitors to Kilfenora will also be able to see the much-praised Kilfenora Céilí Band Parlour exhibition space in the Burren Centre, opened formally by Irish President Michael D Higgins in March 2015. This one of very few permanent museums in the world dedicated to a living musical performer or group. It also features the plaque received from the Guinness Book of World Records marking Kilfenora’s achievement in creating the largest traditional Irish Folk Band (at our 2014 festival).