A celebration of ceol, craic, céilís and Irish culture

Brendan McCarthy

IT has long established itself as a 'must-attend' event on the Irish cultural calendar and this year was no different in Killarney for 'The Gathering Festival' in the INEC.

Now in its fourteenth year, the original 'Gathering' offers its patrons an extensive programme of events which annually includes a mix of live concerts, set dance classes, instrument workshops and lectures, not to mention a trip to the heart of traditional music, song and dance in Kerry, Sliabh Luachra, a musical excursion on the Lakes of Killarney and visits to local schools.

Once again, people travelled from all over the globe – Ireland, UK, the Continent, USA and further afield – to experience The Gathering Festival and organisers have declared themselves thrilled with this year's five-day event from February 20 to 24.

"It was great over the five days," said John O'Shea, "we went to Scartaglin on Wednesday night, visited the schools during the day and everything went according to plan."

"We were happy with the crowds that attended; things have changed but we were very happy with what we got and have no complaints on that score," continued John. "We had story-telling this year for the first time and that was huge. Ray O'Sullivan and Eddie Lenihan were excellent."

Minster for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan visited the festival on Saturday to witness the extensive programme of events on offer.

"The Minister saw first-hand what was going on and we were delighted that he took time from his very busy programme to attend," said John, "he saw the workshops in action and was impressed with what he saw. We are grateful to our sponsors Killarney Credit Union, Kate Kennelly in the Kerry Arts Office, Killarney Town Council and IMRO."

Next year will be the 15th anniversary of the very first festival and though almost 12 months away, patrons can be assured that it will be bigger and better than ever.