The Signs are Up – The Town is Ready

Signs On: The signs are up and the town is ready for its annual festival of music and merriment. ©Photograph: John Reidy

Accommodation is being booked as far away as The Earl of Desmond Hotel in Tralee for this weekend’s 24th annual Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival in Castleisland.

The festival will get underway with a series of pub sessions on this Friday night from 9pm and will continue right up to closing time on Monday night / Tuesday morning.

Full Weekend Programme

In between there are concerts, céili dancing, CD launch, singing, poetry writing sessions and workshops in the traditional Sliabh Luachra instruments.

This bundle of events is tied by a thread of great music which binds any and every loose end the weekend may throw up.

While the days, duration and listed events of the festival are predictable there will be – and always have been – the surprises and the outstanding performers and performances from local or visitor.

Pencil Drawing Specialist

One of the surprises this year will be the appearance of the incredibly talented artist / musician, Finn Harper. The Limerick based pencil drawing specialist will have a highly impressive gallery of his work with him. He will also be doing live demonstrations at the River Island Hotel foyer on Saturday from 2pm to 6pm and on Sunday from 12noon to 5pm.

Events like these have been the highlight of many a memory bank down through the years. This weekend will leave a similar mark on those lucky enough to be here to witness them.

24th Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival Ready to Go

The Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival will be held in Castleisland from Friday, October 28th to Monday, October 31st inclusive.

A full programme of great music, art, dance, poetry and song will prevail in the company of friends from all over the world as the festival glides its way through the weekend.

The festival broke new ground in 2015 with a Sliabh Luachra music playing visitor from Moscow. Anton Zille switched from classical cello to violin because of the logistics of playing the music of the mountains of Cork and Kerry on the bigger instrument.

Group Session

He arrived on the opening evening and on time for a lecture by his friend, Paddy Jones on The Music of Sliabh Luachra at Browne’s Bar and he stayed for the weekend.

The weekend programme will include classes in the long established, Sliabh Luachra instruments and they have been part of the festival from the start.

An experimental ‘group session’ was tried last year where the likes of Paudie O’Connor and Jackie Daly took an accordion discussion group and played and talked about playing.

Paddy Jones, Matt Cranitch and friends did likewise with a fiddle class /workshop. It worked for those groups last year and it may well do so again. Rest assured there will be classes.

Cordal fiddler, Paddy Jones will be presented with the annual award for those who have dedicated their playing lives to the music of Sliabh Luachra.

The List Goes On

Past recipients include: festival founder, Peter Browne and his RTÉ Radio One colleague the late Ciarán Mac Mathúna; Jerry McCarthy, Johnny O’Leary, Paddy Cronin, Jimmy Doyle, Willie O’Connell, Denis McMahon, Maurice O’Keeffe …..and the list goes on.

The 3pm. Saturday afternoon singing session will be presided over by Bean a’ Tí Aileen Roantree and here the likes of: Tim Dennehy, Mickey MacConnell and festival newcomer, Don Stiffe will perform alongside contributions from locals.

If it’s art of the pencil and paper variety you’re drawn to, then prepare yourself to be blown away by the supremely gifted, Finn Harper from Co. Clare. He’ll demonstrate his technique and exhibit the results at the River Island Hotel on Saturday.

Glór na Féile

There will be a Glór na Féile session also at Nana Bea’s on Saturday afternoon – where locals and visitors can brush up on their cúpla focal in a relaxed, cup of tea and chat kind of class.

Young Dublin fiddler, Aidan Connolly will launch his debut CD Be Off at 5pm on Saturday evening at Browne’s Bar.

Sunday night 8pm at the River Island Hotel the Sliabh Luachra Legends’ Concert will include the likes of: Seamus Begley, Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly, Gerry Harrington, Billy Clifford, Peter Browne and more.

Ticket Booking on 066 71 42555

Tickets can be booked at €20 each from the River Island Hotel on 066 71 42555.

On Monday afternoon at 3pm, in the Crown Hotel function room, poet and writer, Gabriel Fitzmaurice will conduct and poetry writing and discussion workshop and it is open to all devotees of the ancient art.

The pub trail – which will run in all locals nightly – is still a work in progress. Be warned: they’ve never yet failed to impress or surprise – or both.

For up to date information please visit the festival website on:

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