The O’Carolan Harp Festival and Summer School, Keadue, Co Roscommon has been held every August Bank Holiday weekend in Keadue since 1978 and was initiated to commemorate world renowned Harper and Composer Turlough O’Carolan whose remains are interred in Kilronan Cemetery just outside Keadue Village.
The committee are absolutely delighted to be back after our two-year break due to the Covid pandemic and are really looking forward to this year’s event which we hope will bring life back into the village and community and a smile on people’s faces again after a tough few years for everybody.
The annual event is one of the longest running and leading Harp and Traditional Music Festivals in Ireland, especially promoting harp music and the music of O’Carolan. It attracts harpers from Ireland and overseas who attend the Harp School Classes and compete in the International Harp Competitions. Participants have an opportunity to participate in the many traditional music events and sessions throughout the Festival & Summer School. Overseas visitors especially enjoy the relaxed atmosphere in the scenic surrounds of unspoilt north Roscommon.
The festival itself will kick off with the O’Carolan Summer School on Monday 25th July and features some of the very best tutors in Irish traditional music, set & sean-nós dance & traditional singing. Classes will be hosted throughout the village with classes in Harp, Bodhran, tin whistle, set dancing and banjo taking place in the morning and classes in button accordion, fiddle, concertina, flute, traditional singing, beginners and advanced sean nós dancing taking place in the evening.
Registration for the Summer School is available in advance online, on our new website at www.ocarolanharpfestival.ie.
A special Tutor’s Concert on Thursday 28th July will be another highlight in St. Ronan’s Hall. Compere on the night will be our good friend and long-time supporter Senator Eugene Murphy.
Our harp recital in Kilronan Castle Estate and Spa on Wednesday evening 27th July will feature our own local, award winning and highly accomplished Keadue Harpers Fiachra Guihen and Emma Benson who will be joined on the night by other local harpers playing a large repertoire of O’Carolan’s pieces.
Céilithe have always been part of O’Carolan Festivals and this year hosts two stalwards of Céilí bands – the O’Carolan Country Ceili Band & Rise the Dust. Dancing will be brisk on Tuesday July 26th and Friday July 29th – please bring along all your dancing friends for two great nights. A traditional Irish Music festival cannot take place unless there are a few sessions about with sessions for young and old alike throughout the week and weekend in the local public houses.
For any of you that are feeling energetic Keadue Tidy Towns are running a 5km Fun Run/Walk on Friday evening July 29th at 7.30pm.
We continue to have competitors travel the globe to compete in the Arigna Fuels sponsored O’Carolan International Harp competitions on Saturday 30th July. They commence from 10:30am and we will be sure to be enthralled again with the very high standard of competition.
To keep our young people entertained the local sports field committee are running a family fun day on Saturday commencing at 2pm. A brilliant day out for all the family is guaranteed with sports events, football in the all-weather pitch, bouncy castles and loads of other surprises.
Saturday night features “The Handyman” which is a play written and performed by the brilliant Seamus O’Rourke. The Handyman is a hilariously funny, yet poignant poetic look at small-town life in rural Ireland and takes place at 9pm in St. Ronan’s Hall.
The official launch of the festival will take place on Sunday 31st July at 3.30pm preceded by the parade led by the Raheen Pipe Band from Elphin.
On Sunday evening at 4.30pm we will be joined from the GigRig by a fantastic group and well-known musicians Stephen Doherty, David Doocey and Siobhan O’Donnell. A great evening of music and song is guaranteed in this live open-air free event.
On Sunday night 31st July our big concert features Goitse in St. Ronans Hall from 9pm. This popular and multi-award-winning quintet have become a leader of the new generation of traditional Irish ensembles, have released five critically acclaimed recordings and maintains a year-round touring schedule that includes performances throughout Ireland and the UK, Germany, France and the United States. Line-up includes Áine McGeeney (vocals and fiddle), Colm Phelan (bodhran), Conal O’Kane (Guitar), Tadhg Ó Meachair (piano accordion) and Alan Reid (banjo, bouzouki, mandolin).
Tickets will sell fast and are available from the festival website at www.ocarolanharpfestival.ie or by ringing 087 7745878.
A wreath laying ceremony at O’Carolan’s grave, followed by a lecture in the fabulous Kilronan Castle Estate and Spa nearby gets the concluding Monday underway. This year’s lecture will be given by Mary B. Timoney, MA, MIAI entitled “Commemoration in 18th and Early 19th Century Roscommon graveyards and churches.
In the afternoon on the Bank Holiday Monday Music at the Heritage Park begins at 3pm with the multi-award winning local CCE group. We then welcome the hugely popular Paul Kelly and his band for a free open air concert from the GigRig at 4.00pm.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to end and the festival will close with the world famous Door Dancing competition which will see all styles of traditional Irish dance compete for the title of 2022 Junior and Senior Door Dancing Champion. This conclusion night has always been one of the special and most memorable nights of the Festival where the young, the young at heart and the rest compete for the glory, the fun and the cheer. Music on the night is performed by Keadue CCE and Compere on the night will be Senator Eugene Murphy.
Ceili Nights, Music & Song Sessions, A Tutor’s Concert , Harp Recitals and more… Keadue deserves a visit from Monday 25th July to Monday 1st August.
See www.ocarolanharpfestival.ie or follow on Facebook – Brochures available from local tourist information offices, theatres, hotel & B&B lobbies, shops or any committee members.
(Photograph shows Andy McGovern, Declan Noone, Maria Guihen, Tom Crosby, Valerie Byrne, John Cummins, Conor Layden at the launch in Kilronan Castle)