As they embark on their second century, the Kilfenora Céilí Band has certainly hit the ground running. Having fulfilled their customary St. Patrick’s Festival engagement at the National Concert Hall, Ireland’s premier Céilí Band returns to Glór in Ennis for a concert on Saturday, 24th April. This concert marks the launch of the Fleadh Nua 2010 Programme and is sure to be a sell-out. Tickets cost €22.50 and may be purchased online at www.glor.ie.
Last year Fleadh Nua planned to pay tribute to the Corofin Teach Ceoil for its enviable record of hosting an uninterrupted series of Seisiún since Comhaltas’ summer series of traditional entertainment was initiated many years ago. Unfortunately, the occasion was deferred as a mark of respect on the passing of stalwart, Joe Kierse. The tribute has now been rescheduled for Cois na hAbhna on Sunday, 23rd May as part of the Official Opening of the Festival.
Aos Óg showcases the very best of underage talent, and it comes as no surprise that performing at this Concert has proved an important milestone in many musical careers. Witness Tara Breen, Dermot Sheedy and James Mahon - who play with Cirrus the band created by Donal Lunny for the hit TG4 programme “Lorg Lunny” – all of whom have performed in recent concerts. Some seasoned Fleadh Nua observers opine that the Aos Óg concerts of the 1970’s were the highlight of the Festival and attained a standard that remains unsurpassed. In an effort to keep the raging fires of this debate well and truly stoked, Fleadh Nua offers the voting public a chance to make up its own mind. In the red corner, the customary Aos Óg Concert on Friday, 28th May. In the blue corner, the Celebrity Concert on Saturday, 29th May will comprise artistes who performed at the Aos Óg in the halcyon days of the Seventies including Eoin Ó Riabhaigh, Conal Ó Gráda and Colm Murphy. Both concerts take place in Glór and tickets are available on www.glor.ie.
Set Dancers will want to add the extensive programme of Céilithe and workshops to their diaries. Serious dancers demand serious bands and what better band to get the show on the road than the Tulla Céilí Band in the familiar surroundings of the Old Ground Hotel on Thursday, 27th May. The action switches to Cois na hAbhna on Friday, 28th May when the Rebel County’s finest, the Abbey Céilí Band invites you to take to the floor. And to prove – if indeed it needed proving – that as well as putting on a top class show, they can also play a mean Céilí the Kilfenora play in Cois na hAbhna on Saturday, 29th May. Sunday night sees Matt Cunningham and Band take to the stage at the Gort Road venue. Chase away the Monday morning blues with Dave Culligan and the Star of Munster on 31st May – venue to be confirmed. The Four Courts Céilí Band bring proceedings to a close at Cois na hAbhna on Monday, 31st May. And in case you are worried that your steps aren’t up to scratch fear not as our programme of Set Dancing Workshops will have “dancing at home” and “round the house” in no time. One of the aims of this year’s Festival is to increase accessibility to and visibility of our traditional arts. Thanks to the generous assistance of the Clare County Council Arts Office “The Riches of Clare” series of free lunchtime concerts provides an ideal opportunity to sample what the Fleadh has to offer. A full programme of Street Entertainment will take place on Saturday and Sunday, 29th and 30th May involving performances on the Gig Rig, Cosán Ceoil/Music Trail and open air Céilí. Watch out for “The Banjo Strikes Back” – a dedicated session for Banjo players – Fiddlers, Flutes and Box Players need not apply.
A hallmark of previous Fleadhanna has been the extraordinary breadth of the programme of events. So it should come as no surprise that this year’s programme also includes Foinn Seisiún Workshops, Storytelling Sessions with the inimitable Eddie Lenihan, Guided Walking Tour, Singers’ Club, Fleadh Club, Pub Music Trail, and Competitive Stage Shows.
On the fringes of the Official Programme are a number of events which will undoubtedly be of interest to Traditional Music lovers. On Thursday, May Cork singer, John Spillane visits Patrick’s Bar in the Market as part of the CeolÓlta Sessions – more information is available on www.ceololta.com. A late night gig at Glór on Friday, 28th May provides Lúnasa - “the hottest Irish acoustic group on the planet” according to the New York Times – with an ideal opportunity to showcase their new album Lá Nua. If it’s high energy performances, breathtaking arrangements and infectious melodies you seek then join Guidewires’ Late Night Party in Glór on Saturday, 29th May. See www.glor.ie for details