Boyle Arts Festival

The stage is set for the opening of Boyle Arts Festival

Boyle Arts Festival will open tomorrow (Thursday 5th) and while it will be shorter than usual, it will still feature over 20 events, including an impressive mix of live music, visual arts, drama, interviews, street theatre, readings, online film and much more.

The main body of the Festival will run from August 5th until August 8th, while a selection of special online events will run until August 14th. The visual art exhibition ‘Crossings’ will continue in King House until August 31st while the local Art Trail, featuring visual art from a number of local artists, can be found in various premises and windows, all over town.

(By Brendan McGee)

All of the music, drama and spoken word events will take place in the new venue, The Marquee @ Quarry Lane.

The dynamic folk orchestra NoCrows & Martin Tourish will kick off the live music programme with a special concert on Thursday and Paddy Casey will make a welcome return to Boyle after a five year absence, when he performs some of his most recent songs and a few old favourites, during an intimate concert on Friday night.

Bird on the Wire – the Songs of Leonard Cohen will see singer Pauline Scanlon teaming up with The Whileaways, for an enchanting and atmospheric performance of songs by Leonard Cohen on Saturday evening. 

Lizi, Lynda & Ceara are also back after five years and they will host an afternoon concert featuring some classic songs with modern and folk influences on Sunday, August 8th. This concert will be preceded by the launch of a new song; ‘Sweet Rockingham’ composed by local man Cormac Callery, with music by Donal O’Connor and performed by Gráinne Caldbeck. Also look out for a concert by BAF veterans, The Men Who Knew Too Much, who will play at The Marquee on August 7th.

On Friday, RTÉ News Journalist Carole Coleman will once again host the very popular ‘In Conversation’ series and this year her special guest will be Professor of Experimental Immunology and Director of The Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute at Trinity College Dublin, Professor Kingston Mills.

Another one of our very popular events, ‘A Naggin of Knowledge’ is back again on Saturday, with eminent scientists, Professor Marina Lynch and Professor John F. Cryan. 

Other spoken word events will include a reading by author Kevin Barry and local historian Tony Conboy will bring his popular walking tour indoors this year, with an illustrated virtual tour of local interest buildings in Boyle. Both events are on Friday.

Artist Laura Earley, will present an illustrated discussion on her fascinating new book ‘Roscommon’s Mosaic Tradition’ on August 8th.

The classical music programme will include ‘John Count McCormack – A Life in Song and Story’ on Sunday, August 8th. Matthew Gilsenan from the internationally renowned Celtic Tenors will perform the celebrated songs of the great Irish lyric tenor John Count McCormack, along with a narrative of his life, accompanied by pianist Mairead Hurley.

There will be plenty of drama at BAF 2021 and we are delighted to welcome back Fregoli Theatre, who will present ‘Angels’ on August 5th. This is a short street theatre piece, created as part of their 2021 residency at Roscommon Arts Centre and supported by the Arts Council of Ireland. The drama is co-directed by Boyle native, Maria Tivnan and Tara Finn.

Beezneez Theatre Company will also present two performances of John McDwyer’s funny and heartbreaking ‘An Ordinary Man’ in King House on August 5th.

The second week of Boyle Arts Festival will feature a number of online video events which will be available to view via our website and on the Boyle Arts Festival YouTube channel.

For the inaugural King House Piano Commission 2021/21, a specially commissioned piece entitled ‘Sraith na Búille’ (The Boyle Suite) has been recorded and will be premiered on video during BAF 2021. The suite was composed by Dr. Ryan Molloy, who was the first recipient of the new award funded by the Arts Office of Roscommon County Council together with the Arts Council of Ireland, in collaboration with Boyle Arts Festival and in association with the Contemporary Music Centre. Performing with Dr. Molloy are Mossie Martin (fiddle), Alan Kelly (accordian) and Steph Geremia (flute). The video was recorded in beautiful surroundings of the Main Salon in King House and will be broadcast next week.

Local musician, Donal O’Connor has also been commissioned by Boyle Arts Festival to compose two exclusive new songs about Boyle.  ‘I Am the River’ and ‘The Queen of Main Street’ will also be premiered on video during BAF 2021.

Look out for videos too by harpist, Amy O’Neill performing in Frybrook House, along with artist talks by Susan Mannion and Laura Earley.

Our acclaimed series of lunchtime concerts will also be on video this year, featuring pianist Luke Lally Maguire, soprano Eimear Harper and flautist Molly de Búrca.

The beautifully restored King House will, as always, house the centrepiece of Boyle Arts Festival – the Visual Exhibition. Curated by Paul McKenna, this year’s theme is “Crossings”, which will bring together leading artists from across Ireland –Work by established artists like John Behan, John Shinnors, Elizabeth Cope, Colin Davidson and Donald Teskey will share space with art from emerging artists such as Linda McCann, Mantas Ponderys, Stephen Doyle and Sian Costello. The exhibition will continue until August 31st and if you are unable to attend, it will be available to view in a virtual 3D tour, via our website 

With a number of restrictions still in place, this year’s Festival will of course be a different experience but the Committee are following Covid-19 guidelines and working to ensure that all events will be as safe, enjoyable and memorable as ever.

A number of events are now sold out but tickets for other events remain available to purchase online at and

Please note that there is no ticket office this year and no tickets will be available at events.

For more information on Boyle Arts Festival 2021 please visit  email [email protected]  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Boyle Arts Festival is supported by The Arts Council.


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