THE finest of Irish traditional musicians will be descending on Bantry for the Masters of Tradition this August, when fiddler Martin Hayes will be joined by a stellar cast including Dennis Cahill, Steve Cooney, Seamus Begley, Pipers Union, the Voice Squad, Triona Marshall, Paul Brock and many more.
Hayes is, in fact, the artistic director of this special festival since its inception in 2003. "We have a number of events that people rave about and others lament not having attended. I don't intend to miss any of those moments and I hope you don't either," he said about the upcoming offering.
The five evenings of music open with a spellbinding performance by Martin, Dennis Cahill and sean nós Mhuscrai singer Nell Ní Chróinin. To follow is Danny O'Mahony, an accordion player from North Kerry who is instantly recognised for his very distinctive style of playing, joined by the popular guitarist and Bantry favourite Steve Cooney.
A celebration of the voice takes place on Thursday evening the debut of the Voice Squad. These traditional acapella close harmony singers have a unique sound which comes from the two tenor voices of Fran McPhail and Phil Callery alongside the underlying bass of Gerry Cullen.
Harpist Triona Marshall returns for Friday's concert in Bantry House and the audience will also be entertained by Angelina and Peter Carberry on banjo, Brian Mooney on bouzouki and another popular Cork singer Maire Ní Chéileachair.
The rare chance to watch three uilleann pipers on the candlelit stage of Bantry House follows when Pipers Union perform in the late night concert.
Two favourites return on Saturday night when guitarist Steve Cooney is joined by accordion player and singer Seamus Begley. Late that night, in what might be a first for the Masters of Trad, there's an American duo who are Appalacian double-fiddlers, Cleek Schrey and Stephanie Coleman.
The festival closes with the resident master, Martin Hayes, joined by guitarist Dennis Cahill and Leo MacNamara on flute for a concert that is always sold out early.
Tickets are available online from www.westcorkmusic.ie/mastersoftradition, by ringing 027 52788, or Lo Call 1850 788 789.