Skerries has a vibrant and rich musical tradition. Tracing their roots to the 1960s, the skiffle band The Graduates formed in Skerries. Fronted by Tony Keeling, the showband released their first single in 1965 and performed in Ireland and toured America into the 1970s. More recently, Skerries has been the launching point for metal band Primordial and alternative rock band The Delorentos.
Each year, the Soundwaves Festival combines the town’s musical and artistic traditions in a stunning celebration of the region’s heritage and culture. The festival mixes together music of various genres with entertainment and fun for audiences of all ages. Organized by the Skerries Community Association (www.skerriesca.com), the festival was first held in 2004. Events are put on throughout the town in venues large and small. The 2011 edition featured 35 events at 11 venues and was launched with the Enchanted Exhibition, a showcase of original artwork from leading children’s book illustrators from across Ireland. One of the festivals’ signature events is the Battle of the Bands, which is held at Shenanigans Niteclube and features bands from Skerries and surrounding communities. The victor of the competition has the honour of performing at the Rock Music Trailer during the Soundwaves Street Festival. Some of the more quirky events during the festival evoke nostalgic feelings, such as screenings of cult and classic movies. In previous years, festivalgoers in costumes were treated to viewings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and sang along to tunes while watching Mamma Mia.
For Lego enthusiasts, the festival invites children and youth to participate in a competition of original creations in the largest Lego competition outside Denmark. A parallel Lego exhibition is also the largest held outside of Legoland. In 2011, children and families were also treated to a classical music concert of Disney favourites performed by ten classical musicians from across Ireland. A magic show and fun cycling ride between Skerries and Ardgillen Castle are also family favourites during the festival. In 2011, Irish children’s actor Louis Lovett performed a hilarious theatre piece and held an interactive workshop for children and their families.
During the festival, workshops for all ages and interests appeal to a range of interests, including photography, jewellery making, flower arranging, and juggling. Creative Writing workshops are held at the historic and scenic Skerries Mills, which also serves as a venue for concerts. In 2011, performers included multi-platinum seller singer-songwriter Paddy Casey, the Balbriggan Brass Band, Keith Burke, Little Black Book, Jody Trehy, Pugwash, and Aidan Murphey.
Held over three weekends in September, the festival culminates with Festival Day and celebrations to commemorate the Equinox. Aspiring artists, craftspeople and artisans, and street performers entertain crowds throughout the town on Festival Day. The Rock Music Trailer is one of many highlights of the day. If rock music fails to appeal, you can enjoy classical and traditional musicians at the gothic Methodist Church and a candle-lit classical music performance at Holmpatrick Church. Traditional Céilí dancers and folk musicians also perform at St. Patrick’s Church after Sunday mass. Following a night parade, the festivities conclude with spectacular fireworks along the Skerries Harbour.