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Again it’s that time of year where the people of Co. Clare prepare for the hundreds of musicians, singers, dancers and revellers who swarm in on the county for the 14th annual Ennis Trad Festival.
Year on year the festival attracts an ever increasing hoard of musicians to the town. Improving and increasing in leaps and bounds this festival bustles in a veritable frenzy of music, song and dance representing the pinnacle of the Irish Festival tradition.

This year’s event takes place between the 8th to 12th November in almost every venue in the town of Ennis. It is a non-stop intensive programme of free day and night sessions with afternoon, evening and night-time concerts, recitals, singing, workshops, presentations, CD launches and the ever popular Trad disco. On Thursday night Lissycasey native Dympna O’Sullivan will release her debut album and will be joined on the night by many guests.
The festival is officially launched on Thursday 8th November and followed by a seisúin. The legendary accordion player and composer Finbarr Dwyer will open the concert programme on Thursday night. Finbarr who has recently returned to public performance after a break of 17 years will be accompanied by Brian McGrath.
Friday evening’s open concert will feature Clare musicians Tony Linnane, James Cullinan, and Jim O’Connor accompanied by Mick Conneely. Tony and James, exponents of the Clare fiddle rarely perform in the concert circuit and it’s a unique opportunity to hear them with flute play Jim O’Connor and Mick Conneely on bouzouki and fiddle.
London born fiddle player Kane O’Rourke will release his debut album, The Jolly Tinker. This album brings together an array of his musical talents which features him playing Flute, Fiddle, Lilting and Guitar and also some of his own compositions.
On Friday night Four Men and a Dog will unleash their highly energetic repertoire on the festival with their music encompassing influences from other genres such as bluegrass and jazz. The band comprises Cathal Hayden (fiddle), Donal Murphy (accordion), Gino Lupari (bodhran, vocals), Gerry O’Connor (banjo) and Kevin Doherty (guitar, vocals) and will entertain the audience with tracks from their newly released album entitled Wallop the Spot.

Saturday’s events will commence with music instrument and Sean Nós dancing workshops to attract young and old to hone their respective music and dance skills.  Workshops will be for beginners, intermediate and advanced level and given by the many top class musicians and dancers congregating on the town for the weekend.

A new addition to the last year’s festival was the Trad themed table quiz which proved to be very popular with our Trad aficionados. This event which takes place on Saturday afternoon will test your knowledge of Trad musicians, records, CDs and of course Trad triviality.

This year will see the presentation of the Ennis Trad Festival Gradam Ceol to concertina player Sonny Murray. Sonny from Knockalough, Kilmihil is one of the many fine concertina players that hailed from the area such as Solus Lillis, Bernard Sullivan, Tom McCarthy and 2005 Gradam recipient Tom Carey. Sonny lives in Ennis and has had a major influence on the Ennis music scene over the years and this presentation is a fitting compliment to the unassuming master of the concertina.

Singer Geraldine Bradley will release her album, Sound Neighbours, Contemporary Music in Northern Ireland on Saturday evening.

Saturday evening will see Alan Kelly and his band Mosaic perform its exciting blend of traditional, salsa and jazz rhythms and one of the hottest live acts on the Irish scene. Mosaic was voted one of the top ten trad albums by both the Irish Times and Hot Press Magazine and Irish Music magazine also nominated Mosaic for ‘Best Crossover album’ and Alan is accredited with single handedly reviving the piano accordion in traditional music.
The festival would not be complete without the ever popular Trad Disco which was devised by the festival committee some years back. In testament to its popularity it has become a weekly event in Ennis.
On Sunday dancers will have their opportunity to step it out at Set Dancing Workshop which has become a very popular event. This will be followed by the festival céilí on Sunday afternoon with the ever popular Four Courts Ceili Band.
This year’s festival has a new dimension namely “Ard Ghaisce na mBúionta” Senior Ceilí Band competition which will be adjudicated by a panel of 4 adjudicators and audience whereby you can cast your vote on who you deem to be the best band on the night.  Some of the best bands in Ireland and abroad such as The Thatch, Tribes, Ceolteoirí na Mainstreach will compete for the very generous prize money. This concert will provide and excellent nights entertainment and will be recorded for Ceilí House.
On Sunday evening mandolin player Frank Cullen will release his album, “And all points west”

On Monday night the finale concert will feature Éamon(banjo) Coyne , Tim Edey and John Joe Kelly. Éamon Coyne, who now lives in Edinburgh, is originally from Ireland (Dublin/Roscommon) and has performed and recorded with a vast array of musicians covering all genres of folk music.

From the festivals inception its guiding ethos has been to bring musicians of all generations and styles from Ireland and abroad together to share their tunes, songs and steps in a relaxed session environment. The festival committee has craftily orchestrated the sessions to allow many opportunities for artistes to perform with others that they wouldn’t normally get to meet.  Accordingly a great social dimension is always present at this festival

A courtesy coach will operate to and from the West County and the Auburn Lodge for the concerts and competition in those venues.

A detailed schedule of events is available on the website and in the brochures which will be available in the week running up to the festival. It is advised to grab one of these and guard it as your weekend’s bible to quality Irish music and a great Weekend.

Permalink - Posted: October 17, 2007 at 12:43 pm