Revival Festival: An Unwavering Brilliance of Musicianship

Caught Snapping: Sharon Shannon during a rare break from the stage at the Revival Music Festival on Listowel’s town square on Friday night. ©Photograph: John Reidy
Castleisland’s long-standing connection with the famous Furey family and mentioned by Finbar Furey on the Late Late Show in 2017.

It seems that it rained almost everywhere else but on Listowel on Friday night.

The North Kerry capital of culture hosted a genuinely star studded, open-air ‘Revival’  concert on its accommodating and spacious square on Friday and Saturday nights.

Dark and ominous cloudy skies threatened a deluge that obligingly bypassed Listowel on Friday night – on Saturday night it was a different story.

Self Penned Songs

‘Young Finbar Furey’ as Sharon Shannon called him, opened the proceeding on the evening at the appointed time of 7:30pm with a couple of self-penned songs.

Finbar senior would follow later on that night.

Then the ever smiling and pleasant, Sharon Shannon was a constant on stage between and often during the various acts with her big band.

Unwavering Brilliance of Musicianship

Another constant was the unwavering brilliance of the musicianship on stage throughout the night which ran all the way up the clock to 11pm.

There are little incidents in life which happen with clockwork precision but which could never be planned.

A flock of seagulls flew in from the River Feale, over Christy Walsh’s Bar and over the stage just as Finbar Furey got into the second bar of his beautiful and plaintive rendition of The Lonesome Boatman.

Puck Fair, Castleisland and Listowel

And he told the crowd that he won his first piping All-Ireland at the Fleadh Cheoil in Listowel in 1972. A couple of years ago to told Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show that his parents got married in Castleisland a couple of days after meeting at Puck Fair.

Kerry has a lot going on in this particular Dubliner’s busy life.

Timing and Unwitting Tribute

There was an appropriateness to the timing of the gulls and their unwitting tribute – but they didn’t confine their aerobatics to the veteran Irish entertainer’s time on stage – even if it made more sense to do so during his stint.

With some of the best known and internationally famous entertainers, including Sharon Shannon herself and Sinéad O’Connor, taking to the open-air stage in the town over the weekend, the event was a triumph for the community as a whole.

Music Festival Success

Volunteers, drawn from every club and organisation in the area, patrolled the square with safety and emergency services working alongside Gardaí for the common good.

After years of trying to find a formula for music festival success, Listowel would appear to have struck a chord with its Revival Festival.

And with revival such a big issue and word in rural Ireland in these times of growing uncertainty, Listowel’s Revival Festival and its timing stands as a beacon of inspiration.