Missed an earlier news item? Visit the news archive.

From Leitrim to London, Ireland’s leading musicians play the 2013 Return to Camden Town Festival

On Sunday 27th October, over twenty of Ireland’s finest traditional musicians are coming together for a special concert and launch of The Leitrim Equation 3 CD. The concert, which is supported by Waterways Ireland, is part of the 2013 Return to Camden Town Festival in Camden’s London Irish Centre. It is the culmination of a residency by leading traditional musicians Dónal Lunny, John Carty and Séamus Begley in the county of Leitrim over the last eighteen months.

In 2006, Leitrim County Council Arts Office, with the support of the Arts Council of Ireland, devised a programme called The Leitrim Equation. Ireland’s most respected and talented traditional music groups were invited to spend time in the county working with musicians and groups, culminating in the recording of a CD. This process would celebrate music in Leitrim and of Leitrim, contribute to the professional development of musicians and act as a focal point for the development of music in Leitrim generally.

The first two residencies were led by traditional music ‘super-groups’ Lúnasa and Dervish. For the third residency, a group of musicians who are individual legends in the world of traditional music were brought together in Leitrim. They were Dónal Lunny, on bouzouki and guitar, Séamus Begley on accordion and vocals, John Carty on fiddle, banjo and tenor guitar, together with special guest, Leitrim native and 2012 TG4 Musician of the year, Brian Rooney on fiddle.

The group relished coming together in Leitrim, due to the richness of traditional music there and the opportunity to play with musicians from Leitrim they regard as ‘greats’ in Irish music. They came for the welcome and camaraderie for which County Leitrim is known and which they enjoyed the length and breadth of the county. They brought with them a genuine desire to share the skills and experience they have gathered during their careers with the next generation of Leitrim musicians.

The residency draws to a close this October with the launch of a CD recorded by the group, together with a host of Leitrim musicians. The CD, entitled The Leitrim Equation 3, consists of a selection of tunes by composers from, or connected with County Leitrim from as far back as O’Carolan, through Joe Liddy, to present day masters such as Charlie and Maurice Lennon, together with newly composed tunes by the group and other local musicians. The CD features some familiar as well as less well known Leitrim tunes, which were uncovered during the residency. They are all performed by the group and some of the Leitrim musicians they met and worked with during their time in the county.

The launch will be celebrated with a Gala Concert hosted by the 2013 Return to Camden Town Festival at the London Irish Centre on Sunday 27 October, in what promises to be a fantastic night of music. There are a number of special connections to London which make this particularly fitting. Special guest, Leitrim fiddle player Brian Rooney has spent most of his life in London. In recent years he has received wide acclaim, most notably in 2012, when he received traditional music’s highest accolade, the TG4 Musician of the Year Award.

John Carty, a previous recipient of the same award, migrated in the opposite direction. He was born in London and is now firmly ensconced in the northwest of Ireland. Niall Keegan, director of the MA in Traditional Music Performance at Limerick’s Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, is another London native whose family hails from Leitrim. Given the immense bank of expertise in professional development garnered at the academy, Niall provided invaluable help to shape the residency in its early days.

Séamus Begley makes up to three the members of the group to have received a TG4 award; he is 2013 TG4 Singer of the Year. He brings his extraordinary talent on the accordion and stunning vocals to the project. From Planxty to the Bothy Band, Dónal Lunny, internationally renowned for his ground-breaking contribution to Irish music, has in recent years become equally highly regarded as a producer. With this programme, has played a leading role in the development of young musicians, as well as producing the The Leitrim Equation 3 CD itself.

Joining the group on the night will be over twenty of Leitrim’s finest musicians, singers and dancers, including Eleanor Shanley, Ben Lennon, Michael O’Brien and Edwina Guckian. The night promises to raise the roof of the London Irish Centre in a celebration of Leitrim Music and will be a tremendous conclusion to the Leitrim Equation project, promoting the rich tradition of music in Leitrim music that is very much alive and kicking.

Coinciding with the concert, Leitrim Tourism is launching a search for Leitrim Ambassadors in the UK on the same day as the concert. The initiative encourages people in the UK to think of Leitrim as a holiday destination, not only during 2013, but in 2014 and beyond. Leitrim Tourism is targeting people who come from Leitrim and are now living in London and the UK, encouraging them to become advocates of their native county by creating awareness of what’s on offer and encouraging others to consider Leitrim as a destination of culture and geniality.

The Leitrim Equation concert starts at 8.00pm on Sunday 27 October, at the London Irish Centre London Irish Centre, 50-52 Camden Square. Tickets are £15 (£12 concession) and they can be booked through the Festival Box Office by calling 07871 088121.

For further information, please visit the Return to Camden Town Festival website at

Permalink - Posted: September 26, 2013 at 2:12 pm