Sharon headlines 37th O’Carolan Harp Festival & Summer School

Deputy Fitzmaurice to perform opening

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

The annual event is now one of the leading Harp and Traditional Music Festivals in Ireland, especially promoting harp music and the music of O’Carolan.

The keynote concert in this 37th year of the festival features previous visitor, Sharon Shannon, who attracted full houses on both previous occasions.

Sharon is joined by the virtuoso Alan Connor on guitar and keyboards. Early booking is advisable.

A country dance gets the Bank Holiday weekend in the swing of things with Patrick Feeney and Band. Another feature of the night is the re-emergence of the Festival King and Queen competition, held in conjunction with several partner businesses in the area. Compere is Shannonside Radio presenter John Lynch.

There is plenty of street entertainment throughout the weekend, with the return of one of the predominant exponents of Trad & Ceili music on Sunday afternoon. Shaskeen have visited before and always gave a great example of their brilliance.

Local TD Michael Fitzmaurice will open this year’s event, whilst the parade will be led by the Raheen Pipe Band. Local Harpers and visiting musicians will also play on the open-air platform on Sunday afternoon.

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 will be given by Roscommon County Council’s Heritage Officer Ms. Nollaig Feeney. Music at the Heritage Park begins on Bank Holiday Monday with the multi-award winning troupe of players from Lough Allen Ceolteoiri under the expert tutelage of Padraig Sweeney at 3 pm. Carrick-on-Shannon based Rakish then continue from 4.30 pm.

The phenomenon that is the world famous Door Dancing competition will see all styles of Sean Nos compete for the title of 2015 Door Dancing champion. Music is provided by Liam Purcell and friends. Compere will be twinkle-toed Eugene Murphy from Shannonside Radio.

The O’Carolan Summer School features some of the very best tutors in traditional music instruments, set and sean-nos dance and traditional singing. A Tutor’s Concert on Thursday 30th will be another highlight in St. Ronan’s Hall with a Youth Recital earlier in the day at 2.30 pm. Jean-Luc Bresson may not be very well known around Keadue – at least not yet.

But Keadue, Kilronan and Turlough O’Carolan are very well-known to Jean-Luc. He is a baroque lute payer from France who has recorded a complete album of O’Carolan music. One of his dreams is scheduled to come true on Wednesday night July 29th when he visits Ireland, Roscommon and Keadue for the first time to play in the surrounds where O’Carolan played.

Joined by the Keadue harpers, Jean Luc will give a recital in Kilronan Castle which is sure to be full of atmosphere. Ceilidhs have always been part of O’Carolan Festivals and this year we’ve two stalwarts of Ceili bands – the O’Carolan Country Ceili Band and Rise the Dust.

Dancing will be brisk on Tuesday July 28th and Friday July 31st. This is just a flavour of what is happening – we haven’t mentioned the Crafts, Food and Arts Display scheduled for Bank Holiday Sunday…or the fun run/walk on Friday July 31st.