It was a weekend of bumper attendances for the long-running bilingual Éigse na Brídeoige in South Kerry – driven, in part, by the new bank-holiday weekend, but more so, perhaps, by the willingness to pay tribute to one of Iveragh’s legendary musical figures, late Cahersiveen man Seán Garvey.
This year’s festival in the Uíbh Ráthach Gaeltacht was geared at honouring the award-winning singer and musician’s rich contribution to the area up to his death in May of last year, and this very much flavoured this year’s events.
It was perhaps most visible in the form of two concerts – rather than just one, as would usually be the case – taking place over the course of the weekend.
“Everything we held was full to the door,” Fiona de Buis told The Kerryman. “It was unbelievable, really, the pull it [Éigse na Brídeoige 2023] had for people.
“A lot of Seán’s friends joined us. There was a lot on the programme itself; we’d usually just hold one concert, but we had two this time as there was a willingness on the part of Seán’s musical friends. For example, Steve Cooney came from Donegal, people came from Scotland, Dublin, Mayo because they wanted to come here because of the respect they had for Seán.”
Baile ‘n Sceilg and Dromid hosted the two concerts on Saturday and Sunday respectively after the Éigse itself opened in Cathair Dónall on Friday. Ms de Buis said the range of facilities offered in all the host parishes allowed organisers to base their events for each day within one area, whether it was in Baile ‘n Sceilg on Saturday or Dromid on Sunday, for example. This meant the Éigse’s usual mix of presentations, lectures, and musical events could be laid out seamlessly on each of the festival’s three days.
Ms de Buis also thanked everyone involved in making the 2023 Éigse one of the most memorable ever.