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Armagh’s Piping Festival reaches a new milestone

Armagh will be alive from 15 to 18 November with the sounds of reeds, chanters and drones from all over the world as it celebrates the 25th anniversary of the William Kennedy Piping Festival. The Festival, organised by Armagh Pipers Club, is now the longest-running international festival of pipe-based music. The 2018 edition brings together an unprecedented line-up of the most accomplished pipers from all of the main bagpiping traditions of Europe, as well as the cream of the crop from closer to home.

The four-day event features a one-off reunion performance from two legends of Irish music – Paddy Keenan and Paddy Glackin. Former members of the Bothy Band, they recorded a seminal album, Doublin’, in 1979 which became one of the most influential Irish traditional music albums. Other highlights include a return from globetrotting Lúnasa, who have just released their latest album Cas, which features collaborations with Natalie Merchant and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Festival favourites Ulaid will perform with Armagh’s singing legend Ríoghnach Connolly, while Gàidhlig-language supergroup Dàimh, from Skye and Lochaber, will also be making another highly anticipated foray across the Straits of Moyle.

The international dimension of the festival is bolstered by the participation of a galaxy of top performers from across Europe including Anxo Lorenzo from Galicia, José Manuel Tejedor from Asturias, Luigi Lai from Sardinia, Ivan Georgiev from Bulgaria, Georgi Makris from Greece, Dråm from Sweden, and Duo Lagrange Rutkowski from France. From neighbouring Scotland come Ross Ainslie, Finlay MacDonald, Brighde Chaimbeul, and Fin Moore, and from Northumberland, Andy May.

2018 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Kennedy, the blind master pipemaker after whom the Festival is named. That occasion will be marked by the unveiling of an Ulster History Circle blue plaque on the site of his home and workshop in Tandragee.

Over the weekend, a new double CD of material recorded at the Festival will be released to mark the quarter-century landmark. The album consists of 36 live tracks originally collected by the Irish Traditional Music Archive, curated into a unique and diverse compilation.

The Festival again hosts the prestigious William Kennedy Piping Academy, with a stellar line-up of tutors including Seán Óg Potts, Mick O’Brien, Louise Mulcahy, Seán McKeon, Mikie Smyth, Síle Friel, Jarlath Henderson, Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn, Mary Mitchell-Ingoldsby and Peter Browne. There is also a full range of workshops in all instruments, plus sessions, lectures, performances for children, a special ‘Day of Song’, and much more.

The Festival’s main sponsor is Armagh City Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council who have generously supported the event since its inception. Four concerts, from among over 40 Festival events, are funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Full details of the 2018 Festival are available from or For a full listing of events and things to see and do in Armagh, go to

Permalink - Posted: October 24, 2018 at 4:56 pm