Early on in the life of the Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival, Aileen Roantree took charge of the rapidly blossoming Saturday afternoon singing session.
Because it appeared like she knew what she was doing and she knew the crowd around her, she stepped up and dived in.
The Latin Quarter’s Anthony Cronin has a great saying: ‘You must know your People’ – and he may as well have coined the phrase for Aileen.
The thing about the early years of the festival is that it was very much a case of applying the blueprints mastered and perfected by the likes of Muiris Ó Rocháin in Miltown Malbay on Castleisland’s quite similar streets and cultural outlook.
And Aileen was one of those who had been immersed by years in Marrinan’s in Milltown and places of its ilk.
The late Mike Kenny wasn’t a great man for delegating responsibility but he knew a safe pair of hands when he felt and shook them.
Aileen Roantree will Bean a’ Tí the singing session yet again this year in the firm and impartial manner with which she gilded the task and the years.
Next year will mark the 25th staging of the festival and, while the organisers are not noted for long term planning, there are green shoots appearing and there’s young blood on the committee as this milestone looms on the horizon. God is good.
Don Stiffe Added to the Line-Up
The gears are beginning to shift as the Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival draws ever closer.
Earlier in the week we brought you the news that the brilliantly talented Finn Harper will be exhibiting at this year’s festival.
Today the Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival is delighted to confirm that well known Irish folk singer Don Stiffe has been added to this year’s line-up.
Originally from County Galway, Stiffe lived in Boston during the 90’s where he was heavily involved in the local folk scene. Don was a regular visitor to St. Louis where he often joined legendary accordion player Joe Burke in sessions. Burke described his as the Bard of Bohermore referring to his homestead just outside of Galway city.
Don returned to his native Ireland at the turn of the century, and released his debut album in 2006 Start of a Dream. The fantastic musicianship on this album speaks for itself and includes guest appearances from Frankie Gavin, Sharon Shannon, Arty McGlynn, Cathal Hayden and Carol Hession, to name but a few. Four of the songs on this album Missing Galway, Grosse Isle, The Returning and The Banks of the Danube were penned by Don himself.
2011 was a defining year for the man from Bohermore. It began with Don being crowned champion of The All-Ireland Talent Show. He subsequently toured the United States of America with Irish American Band, Cherish The Ladies.
In December 2011 Don released his second album ‘Life’s Journey, The track ‘Somebody Special’ received an award for song of the year from the Live Ireland Awards. In 2012 he again toured Ireland, Britain and the United States promoting this album along with the Kilfenóra Céilí Band.
2016 has seen the great bard release his third recording 1916 Classic Irish Ballads to coincide with the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising. He has been traversing the seas performing on some of the world largest cruise ships alongside such artists as Mary Black and The Black family, Lúnasa and Cherish the Ladies.
We are very excited to have Don at this year’s festival, and information on where he will be performing will provided in due course with the release of the Pub Trail.
Tim Dennehy – A Festival Friend and Ambassador
Tim Dennehy was born in Ballinskelligs and later, the family moved to nearby Cahersiveen.
Both his parents sang and were inheritors of a huge store of songs and stories in the Irish language.
Tim’s mother, Nora Kelly from Cill Rialaig, had developed the custom of constantly singing as she went about her daily chores and this left an indelible mark.
He spent a number of years working in Dublin and then moved to Co. Clare.
Later, he could be found teaching his class in Ennis C.B.S. He was also part of a team of traditional and folk music presenters on Clare FM Radio.
He continues to write poems and songs and is a regular contributor to various workshops and singing weekends throughout the country and abroad.
He lives in Mullach, Co. Clare.
Tim has been a great friend to and a wonderful ambassador for the Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival since its formative years.
Mickey MacConnell – An Instant Hit in Castleisland
Mickey MacConnell was born in Bellanaleck near Enniskillen in County Fermanagh.
He is the youngest member of a musical family. He worked in Dublin for The Irish Press Group and, later, with The Irish Times.
MacConnell began writing songs very early in his life. In 1973 he wrote Only Our Rivers Run Free about the constitutional status of Northern Ireland; it became an instant hit in Ireland.
This encouraged him to seriously devote himself to writing music when he moved to Listowel, where he lives with his wife, Maura.
His first album, Peter Pan and Me was released in 1992 to critical acclaim and included the haunting ballad Lament for Judy Garland.
Many of his songs have been recorded by such artists as: Christy Moore, The Wolfe Tones, Mary Black, The Kelly Family and The James Last Orchestra.
The album, Joined Up Writing, includes many new songs and takes a wry look at life and politics, not just in Ireland but worldwide.
He was an immediate hit with the crowd at Castleisland’s festival singing session on his first visit and he has been asked by the organisers to grace the concert stage at the River Island Hotel at this month’s event.
The 2016 Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival will be held in Castleisland, Co. Kerry from Friday, October 28th to Monday, October 31st inclusive. http://www.patrickokeeffefestival.com
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