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Milwaukee Irish Fest has long been recognized for its celebration of Irish heritage. Through its ties to Ireland, it continues to be the premier Irish festival in the world, bringing the best in Irish culture and entertainment to the Midwest. The 2008 festival will host one of the organization’s largest collaborative efforts to date in its partnership with Milwaukee’s sister city and Ireland’s cultural heart – Galway.

Galway is Ireland’s fastest-growing city and is world renowned for its vibrant lifestyle, boasting a youthful and cosmopolitan atmosphere with a flourishing arts and music scene. This year’s festival welcomes Galway as the cultural theme, and will showcase the county’s rich musical talent on stages throughout the grounds.

Trad on the Prom is a contemporary Irish show featuring the talents of Mairin Fahy, featured soloist with Riverdance and The Chieftains, and her brother Gerard Fahy, multi-instrumentalist and director of Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance. They will perform an eclectic mix of music, song and dance that critics have called “the best Irish show of the year.” Gerard also leads Furry Village, a nine-piece band that fuses traditional, classical and rock elements with strong Celtic melodies throughout, featuring the Uilleann pipes, flutes and whistles.

Liz and Yvonne Kane will make their debut at the festival and comprise the energy-infused Kane Sisters – two fiddle players regarded for their unison playing, fast-paced jigs, duets and solos. Other Galway groups to perform this year will include: The Saw Doctors, who incorporate a variety of influences into their music and hold the record for Ireland’s biggest selling single of all time, I Useta Lover; Marc Roberts, a singer/songwriter who took second place in the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest; and The Maimin Cajun Band who has a down-to-earth sound with Cajun, French, English, waltz, two-step and swing influences.

“As Milwaukee’s sister city, we’re proud to host the best entertainment Galway and the west coast of Ireland has to offer at Irish Fest 2008,” said Jane Anderson, executive director of Irish Fest. “Our partnership with Galway is a great example of our collaboration with our friends in Ireland and we’re excited to not only work with them to bring the best traditional and contemporary talent to the festival, but to continue building these relationships year after year.”

In addition to Galway music, the entertainment lineup will host an array of other Irish Celtic bands. Bodega, from the Shetland Islands, will be part of a Scottish sampler to perform at the Fest. They sing in both Gaelic and English and were winners of the BBC Radio2 Young Folk Band Award for 2005/06. The Scottish sampler will also feature Peatbog Faeries, Lau, Jenna Reid and Anne Massie.

Irish fest will welcome back many musicians from previous years as well. Solas will return to Irish Fest with a traditional brisk rock beat. Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul is regarded as the preeminent exponent of the Irish fiddle-playing world today, has performed Riverdance and is a founding member of Cherish the Ladies. The band crosses Celtic music with Afro-Caribbean rhythms and styles such as rock, blues, classical and bluegrass.

The Omagh Choir will bring their warm sound to Irish Fest to celebrate their 10th Anniversary as an organization. The choir is part of a legacy of choir collaboration between Irish Fest and Omagh, touring with the city’s youth choir in Northern Ireland in 2006. Eileen Ivers collaborated with the Omagh Choir on her most recent album An Nollaig – An Irish Christmas. The choir was originally founded by Daryl Simpson, member of The Celtic Tenors, who will be returning to Irish Fest this year to sing their signature mix of Celtic, operatic and rearranged pop songs.

Another force in the traditional Irish music scene that will perform at the festival is The Kilfenora Ceili Band. A mainstay in Ireland’s music arena for almost 100 years, the band continually reinvents itself with dance and fiddle-friendly songs that keep the crowds coming back year after year.

Other returning favorites include two of Canada’s premier Celtic groups, the Barra McNeils and Troy McGillivray, who will be part of a Nova Scotia Showcase at the festival this year. Also, set to entertain Irish Fest crowds include returning favorites The Makem & Spain Brothers and bands: The Fuschia Band, Gaelic Storm, Scythian and Seven Nations.

All are invited to experience the Galway showcase and much more at Milwaukee Irish Fest, this year set for August 14-17.

For a complete schedule of entertainment and for additional information about Milwaukee Irish Fest please visit

Permalink - Posted: March 20, 2008 at 5:41 pm