October 7th, 8th and 9th sees Féile Strokestown presenting the 14th edition of its much-anticipated annual music festival; a phenomenon and tradition that has established itself as one of the highlights of not just the county’s but also the entire country’s cultural calendar with the Percy French Hotel, post primary school Scoil Mhuire, as well as local pubs and establishments providing the main settings for this year’s extravaganza.
Set against a backdrop of the historical Georgian Palladian mansion that is Strokestown Park House and Gardens, the festival, which continues to showcase its international flavour, must surely surpass itself this year with the participation of performers and tutors from both London and Australia as well as musicians from all across the Emerald Isle including our much-acclaimed and respected local talent like the artistic and lovely Nuala Donlon and voice of an angel, trained soprano Bernardine Casserly who performs with world renowned balladeers De Dannan.
And so, with the cream of Irish talent about to light up Strokestown next week, with everyone preparing for a wonderful weekend packed full of seisiúin ceoil agus damhsa, the Roscommon People caught up with one very busy lady, chairperson of Féile Strokestown, Mairead Casey. Describing her connection as “a labour of love,” and, although busy putting together the final touches for this momentous weekend, it was clear that Mairead’s involvement was built not just on knowledge but also on passion.
“I grew up in a house full of music, song and dance. My dad was a fiddle player and I teach set dancing and Sean Nós dancing,” explained Mairead, who, as well as being at the helm of Féile Strokestown for the past three years, was also preparing for her upcoming trip to Germany where she brings her unique talents to traditional Irish music and dance lovers of all ages and all nationalities.
Mairead was also quick to pour praise on her fellow committee members, volunteers and local businesses who support and sponsor the Feile. “This is all due to local volunteers, a committee and the sponsorship we got from The Arts and Roscommon County Council and the local businesses who get involved,” said Mairead. And, as we all know that it’s local businesses who give local communities that special flavour, that support is vital, and will enhance this colourful, upbeat festival which is set to make Strokestown and its residents come alive with the sound of music, dance and storytelling during a weekend that’s sure to not just bring a much-needed economic boost to this delightful rural town but also enrich revellers’ and visitors’ lives with history, culture and fun.