Monday 18 December 2017

The 39th O'Carolan Harp Fest and Summer school

The O'Carolan Harp Festival, Keadue, Co Roscommon is held to commemorate the harper and composer Turlough O'Carolan, whose music is played and appreciated nationally and internationally.

It attracts harpers from Ireland and overseas who attend the Harp School Classes and compete in the International Harp Competitions. Participants have an opportunity to participate in the many traditional music events and sessions throughout the Festival & Summer School.

Overseas visitors especially enjoy the relaxed atmosphere in the scenic surrounds of unspoilt north Roscommon. O'Carolan is interred in the cemetery on the outskirts of the village.

The keynote concert in this 39th year of the festival welcomes Cherish The Ladies fresh from their base in the USA. Led by whistle and flute player extraordinaire Joanie Madden from New York, who was born in the Bronx to Irish parents and is an All-Ireland champion.

She became the first American to win the senior All-Ireland championship on the tin whistle in 1984. Since 1985, she has been the central force behind Cherish the Ladies, driving them to international acclaim. Other members are Mary Coogan, Mirella Murray, Grainne Murphy, Deirdre Connolly & Kathleen Boyle. The all-female band are looking forward to coming to Keadue for some time and seats are going fast for this event on Sunday night August 6 at 9pm.

A new Concert on Saturday night for the 2017 programme features a mix of Irish harp playing with the infusions of more traditional music instruments. Co-ordinating the sound and theme for the night is Keadue native and local music teacher Mossie Martin on fiddle. Mossie will be joined for a song or five by Fionnuala Maxwell and by Sean Carroll and Bryan Ryan. Harpers from the Keadue Harpers will be on stage too from 9pm in St. Ronan's Hall.

There is plenty of street entertainment throughout the weekend- a highlight of which no doubt will be the launch in the local CCE region of Tommy Guihen's CD "The Torn Jacket". He will be joined by members of the renowned Shebeen whom Tommy played with for many years at 4:30pm on Bank Holiday Sunday in an open-air event in front of St. Ronan's Hall.

Newly-elected Minister of State Sean Kyne TD from Galway will have to put his disappointments from the Connacht Football Final aside and enter the victorious county of Roscommon to open this year's event, whilst the parade will be led by the Raheen Pipe Band. The parade commences at 3:30pm.

A wreath laying ceremony at O'Carolan's grave, followed by a lecture in the fabulous Kilronan Castle nearby gets the concluding Monday underway. This year's lecture, by local historian Fr Tomas Flynn, is on the 1917 by-election in North Roscommon - 'the Election of the Snows' - a pivotal one in the future of politics in Ireland.

For much, much more info on the festival and summer school, visit or follow on Facebook.

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