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Bands aren’t often in the business of celebrating their own centenary, but successive generations, each fired by a love of traditional music, have kept the Kilfenora Céilí Band, who will play the Dún Uladh Centre in Omagh later this month energised and evolving since 1909. Longevity is literally the stuff of life in traditional music though, and the Kilfenora Céilí Band certainly has proved their durability over the last century.

Garry Shannon has been a member of the Kilfenora Céilí Band since 1992, so, although he has 17 years’ membership under his belt, he’s still merely an apprentice. Having grown up in Corofin, just 15 minutes from Kilfenora, in a family steeped in music (his sisters are Sharon and Mary Shannon), he was long acquainted with both the band and its recent evolution.

“In the 1990s we left competition behind us and branched out into recording and touring,” he recounts. “Of course the band was proud of its achievements in competition, and as well as that, there weren’t any other avenues of validation for a band at the time. Opportunities to travel and tour weren’t there in the past either, whereas that’s all changed now.”

This 100th year anniversary celebration concert honours the bands magnificent history, but the concert isn’t a maudlin trip down memory lane. Far from it; today’s Kilfenora band has a modern edge about it that makes it instantly appealing even to those who might consider the word ‘Céilí’ a turn-off. The Band has encompassed fiddle, flute, banjo, keyboards and accordion as well as double bass, saxophone and a full drum set at times.

It’s a mark of the band’s appetite for testing the music’s boundaries and a sign of the potential diversity of their repertoire. The Kilfenora Céilí Band centenary concert takes place in Dún Uladh Cultural Heritage Centre on Nov 21 at 8pm. or 028 8224 2777

Permalink - Posted: November 11, 2009 at 12:29 pm