Glengarriff will reverberate to the melody of the uilleann pipes for four days this week as the whole town becomes a trad music venue for the annual Jim Dowling Uilleann Pipes and Trad Festival.
Headline acts include Sharon Shannon and Iarla Ó Lionáird alongside Steve Cooney, and Brendan Ring.
Events kick off on Thursday and run until the following Sunday, and this year the spectacular Garinish Island will play host to a show — a new piece of music composed by internationally acclaimed piper Brendan Ring and the tradition of the Irish War Pipes.
Brendan, who has been working on the music in his stone cottage near Bantry and who has composed eight new pieces of music which will be divided into four sets, said: “This idea of commissioning new music for the festival is really important because otherwise the tradition dies or stagnates. I’ve never before been asked to write on demand in that way. So it was a challenge for me as well.”
Headlining the festival this year is Sharon Shannon, who appears on Friday, while another act likely to draw a big crowd is Iarla Ó Lionáird, who plays alongside Steve Cooney, who he described as “ very knowledgeable about the song culture, the Sean-nós culture and the ancient harp music”.
The acclaimed singer has lived in Kilkenny in recent years but said the trip to Glengarriff feels like something of a homecoming.
“I haven’t played in Glengarriff before but of course I know Glengarriff — I’ve driven through it many times,” he said.
“My father is from Baltimore in West Cork and a lot of his family are still in that general region. I grew up in a musical world — Coolea where Seán O’Riada ended up and did a lot of work.
“And that in a sense formed a large part of my identity to the extent that I probably would have neglected to look at the other side of my own background which is my father’s side which I have embraced more in recent years.
“I really love West Cork and I think I am very much a West Cork man, not a Coolea man or a Ballyvourney man, but more south-west Cork and when I’m there I feel very at home.”
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