This is a unique festival in that it is organised by lots of different groups of people and then put together in one umbrella programme. The main concerts each night are mostly folk - the opening night features 20 singers and 20 songs - all local, mostly young people, singing one song each as a fund raiser for the festival. Luka Bloom is playing Monday night, Tuesday sees the Henry Girls, Wednesday is a new group to me - NASC - which has a Scots Gallic singer and an Irish language singer and some amazing musicians that play both classical and traditional.
|Peace activist and songwriter Tommy Sands
About 5 years ago, the Creative Arts Award was incorporated into the evening - and this year the recipient is Martin Lynch, one of Northern Ireland's best known playwrights, who has made a profession out of writing plays for the man in the street rather than the intelligensia.
|Playwright Martin Lynch
Moving on, Friday night at the Festival sees another award concert - the Hall of Fame - this award has been given for 27 years to a musician or group who have furthered the development of Irish music across the globe. This year it will be given to Cherish the Ladies, a New York based traditional Irish band of women who are really at the top of the folk and traditional tree now. Joannie Madden the founder of the band lead the St Patrick's Day Parade in Yonkers, NY this year. This video is from a gala spectacular on PBS so the band are augmented .... but you can clearly see the brilliant musicianship... It'll be a brilliant night - they always have dancers with them and the singer is usually kept secret until the night of the concert.
Saturday night's concert is still a surprise - but rumours are circulating about a well known Scottish performer - and then the main stage closes on Sunday night with a regular concert by the Sands Family. Oh and I should mention that we're playing Sunday afternoon at 3.30.
Around those headline concerts there are pub sessions, an afternoon concert series which Tom and I are included in, a lunchtime folk club, an outdoor stage, several art exhibitions, open mike sessions, a couple of organised walks through the mountains, an event on the water where local boatsmen will take you out for a spin on the bay, a Duck Derby!!, lots of pop up cafes, readings, films and a complete children's programme with games and events for the very young up to mid teens.