Gathering Traditional Festival hits right notes

DIRECTOR of The Gathering Traditional Festival, John O'Shea, said this week that the Gleneagle based event has the potential to develop even further as an off-season tourist attraction.

Numbers at this year's festival, its 15th anniversary, were up on last year in every event and a finely tuned mix of concerts, céilís, workshops and sessions proved another major success with thousands travelling to Killarney for the festivities. Mr O'Shea, though, believes the festival, first staged in 1999, could be a world leader in its field.

"We had a lot of visitors from the US and England and there is potential to develop even more overseas. Hopefully Fáilte Ireland will get more involved as it has the full package: heritage, culture, music, dance and even storytelling," he added.

"Flights are cheaper this time to year too and it's a great way to kickstart the tourism season," he added.

Highlights this year included the Friday Night Concert and a Killarney School of Music Session in The Green Rooms on Sunday afternoon.

"We were also delighted with the schools' education programme which is free of charge and this year we visited Tiernaboul NS, Lisigivigeen NS, The Mercy and The Mon," Mr O'Shea continued.

Other highlights included 'The Voice Squad' featuring Gerry Cullen, Phil Callery and Fran Mc Phail; a 'Buttons and Bows' reunion gig featuring Jackie Daly, Gary O'Briain and Seamus and Manus McGuire; instrument and céilí workshops and an impressive harp and fiddle recital. Also joining the sessions were storytelling legends Eddie Lenihan and Ray O'Sullivan.