Ireland provides a feast for the senses with a selection of music festivals this summer celebrating Ireland’s rich musical heritage and diversity.
From haunting balladeers to stadium filling rock bands, Ireland can be rightly proud of its musical heritage. In Ireland ‘craic agus ceol’ – ‘music & laughter’ can be as certain as green fields and warm hospitality and the country’s musical heritage and rich diversity is celebrated with festivals of many different kinds of music.
Traditional Irish music sessions feature heavily of course. The enduring popularity of the jigs and reels played out by fiddles, flutes and uillean pipes, set to the mesmeric beat of a bodhran keeps traditional Irish music alive and kicking and there are plenty of festivals throughout the country over the summer months.
If you’ve ever heard or found yourself singing the lines, ‘I wish I was in Carrickfergus...’ then perhaps you should find out why. From late April to mid May the County Antrim town where President Andrew Jackson’s parents emigrated from, hosts the Carrickfergus Music Festival.
Meanwhile in the heritage town of Ardara in Co. Donegal, in early May, they’ll be holding a tea party with a difference. The Cup of Tae Festival celebrates traditional Donegal music with open air concerts, sessions and classes over a weekend festival set against the backdrop of the Blue Stack Mountains.
Over the last weekend of the month of May, the neighbouring county Sligo holds it’s County Fleadh, with music, activities, pub sessions and Irish dancing ceilis in the town of Gurteen. While at the end of May on the south coast just outside Cork City, the port town of Cobh hosts the Maritime Song Festival. This three day festival remembers Cobh’s past as the embarkation point for the millions who emigrated from Ireland during the Great Famine, so expect a few tear-jerkers.
At the end of May/start of June, Milltown Co. Kerry is the place to beat a track to, as it hosts the World Bodhran Championship. This world percussion festival showcases the Celtic drum with competitors from around the world tapping the beat to become the World Bodhran Champion.
Dancing to the traditional beats are folk dance troupes from around the world as part of the Cork International Folk Dance Festival in late July. You can see folk dances from as far afield as The Philippines, Sardinia and Poland alongside Celtic dancers from Wales, Brittany and Co. Kerry, throughout the streets of Cork City.
While down along the West Cork coast in the sleepy town of Castletownshend, (the spiritual home of Discovering Ireland Vacation) St. Barrahane’s Church Festival of Music sees a mix of classical and Irish traditional music in a very special setting throughout July and August.
In nearby Kenmare in mid July you’ll find the province of Munster’s largest festival of traditional Irish music song and dance with the Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan. While Portlaoise is set to hold Ireland’s biggest Celtic music festival – the World Fleadh at the end of July / beginning of August.
In early August its one of Ireland’s most popular traditional festivals – the famous Feakle International Trad Music Festival with 5 days of music, dancing, poetry and Sean Nos from world class performers in the Co. Clare town of Feakle.
But while Ireland is famous for its fiddle and flute music, Irish Trad isn’t all the country has to offer. Ireland hosts a number of world renowned Jazz festivals such as the Bray Jazz Festival in early May and the Cork International Jazz Festival in late October. The Bray festival takes place over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend each year and promises a packed programme with some of the greatest Jazz artists from around the world. While the Cork Jazz Festival has been an established date in the world Jazz calendar for over 30 years and features a variety of international artists playing at landmark locations throughout Cork City.
For rock music fans, there is the famous Oxegen Festival that takes place every second July and features internationally reknown rock and pop acts. While Ballyshannon in Co. Donegal holds the Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival, featuring legendary rock and blues musicians celebrating the talents of Ireland’s answer to Jimi Hendrix, in the later half of the year.
And for those who enjoy something a little more sedate, there’s the Cork International Choral Festival in early May, performing at Cork City Hall and boasting some of the finest choirs in Europe. While out in the West Cork town of Bantry, the West Cork Chamber Music Festival in early July is an intimate programme of concerts bringing together some of the finest classical musicians from around the world.
If you are thinking of heading here for a vacation in Ireland this summer, there is something for all music lovers and if you are thinking of visiting Ireland contact one of our guides for booking information.