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Trad music in the air in Kilfenora

MUSIC fans are expected to descend in their droves on Kilfenora this weekend for the fifth annual Kilfenora Trad Festival. Jigs and reels will reverberate from one end of the street to the other in one of the county’s great centres for traditional music.

“We started this festival in 2009 to celebrate the centenary of the Kilfenora Céilí Band and we have been going from there. I would say there will be several hundred people here over the course of the weekend.

“While the core support will be from within the county, the festival definitely has wider appeal than just Clare. We have had a lot of interest on the internet from people outside the county, especially with The Gathering this year,” said organising committee member, Andy Lambert.

On Thursday night, a film screening of In the Blood, a 60-minute documentary on the Kilfenora Céilí Band, takes place in Linnane’s pub at 8pm.

On Friday a singers’ night, hosted by Joe O’Connor, is dedicated to the memory of the late Robbie McMahon. The evening will begin with an archive film of Robbie singing his great composition The Fleadh Down In Ennis, with stills of those named in the song, followed by recordings of Robbie singing The Bard Of Armagh and lilting The Mason’s Apron.

Mick Scanlon and John Condon will sing Robbie’s original version of Spancilhill. Singers taking part in the evening include Ann Droney Kirrane, Elle Marie O’Dwyer, Helena Connolly, Denise Whelan, Michael Hackett, Mick Scanlan, Mary Noonan, Tim Dennehy, Gerry McNamara, John Condon, Katie Theasby, Ann Whelan, Eugene Lambe, Joan McDonald, Sally Hughes and a host of local singers. The event is organised by Joe O’Connor, former Reachtaire Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and takes place in Linnane’s Pub.

The same night, a céilí takes place in Vaughan’s Barn with the Four Courts Céilí Band, while Vaughan’s Barn and Nagle’s Bar will host music sessions.

Ann Droney Kirrane and her band, plus the Droney family, will be in concert on Saturday night in Kilfenora Hall. This will be a very special event for Belharbour-born Ann, and a homecoming, as she grew up playing concertina with members of the Kilfenora Céilí Band, such as Kitty Linnane, Tommy Peoples, Paddy Mullins and her father, Chris Droney.

This unique event at the Kilfenora festival brings Ann’s music home. It will be her first concert in her home county after a year of touring in both the United States and continental Europe and her first chance to unite her own repertoire of songs to the ageless heritage of her family’s musical legacy.

Ann will be accompanied on the night by 2008 All-Ireland fiddle champion Ronan Greene, Barry Brady, who has played accordion with Frankie Gavin’s De Dannan, Morga and the Swallow’s Tail Céilí Band and Garry O’Briain, renowned multi-instrumentalist and past member of Boys of the Lough and Buttons and Bows.
Also on Saturday, there will also be a céilí in Vaughan’s Barn with the Abbey Céili Band and music sessions in the pubs in the village.

On Sunday, there will be an Aifreann Traidisiúnta, mass with traditional music at St Fachnan’s Church, followed by the inaugural Riches of Clare concert featuring Sean Vaughan, Felím Collins, Hugh Healy and John Moloney.

An open air céilí will take place in Kilfenora Square at 3pm with the Kilfenora Céilí Band, while a céilí mór will begin at 9.30pm in Vaughan’s Barn with the Four Courts Céilí Band. There will also be music sessions in local pubs throughout the evening.

“For the open air céilí on Sunday, we expect at least 300 to 400 people but the village will be busy all weekend, with the massive singing session on Friday night. There is a fine list of singers lined up for that, including All-Ireland winners.

“The Ann Droney Kirrane concert will be special too. Ann has really emerged as a singer we haven’t known that well in Clare. We recognise her mainly for being part of the Droney family but she is really good and there will be a lot of interest in that too. It is impossible to pick a highlight of the weekend, as we have a number of important things going on,” Andy commented.

Parts of the festival will be available to a worldwide audience on radio and on the internet.

“There will be a live broadcast on Friday from Kilfenora with Clare FM, honouring members of the Kilfenora Céilí Band from the 1950s to ’70s, and also celebrating up-and-coming Kilfenora musicians. We will have about 15 different acts taking part in that in The Burren Centre from 7pm to 9pm.

“Then AerTV will broadcast the open-air céilí in Kilfenora Square on Sunday, led by the Kilfenora Céilí Band. The broadcast will be from 3pm to 5.15pm,”Andy concluded.


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