Traditional Music Festival
First held in 2001, the Skerries Traditional Music Festival (www.skerriestraditionalmucic.com) is organized each year in May. The event celebrates traditional music and combines music, song and dance that reflects Irish culture and the heritage of the Fingal region. Activities during the three-day festival include workshops on singing, traditional dancing, fiddling, and traditional instruments.
Leading artists from Ireland converge on Skerries during the festival weekend, which also brings together emerging and established local artists. In 2012, performers included Irish traditional and Baroque singer Mary Bergin, considered one of the great masters of the tin whistle. Other musicians included accordion player Liam O’ Connor, fiddlers Máire O’Keeffe and Siobhán Peoples, songwriter and accordion player Con “Fada” O Drisceóil, sean-nós dancer Mairéad Casey, fluter Conal Ó Gráda, and pipes and whistles musician Mick O’Brien. Group performers included the ensemble The Bonny Men and the instrumental group Brock McGuire Band.
The Traditional Music Festival is held in venues across Skerries, creating a relaxed and vibrant feel across the town. An opening concert with performances by musicians from across the Fingal region, typically held at the Little Theatre, sets the tone for the festivities. Local pubs and halls host performances by local and regional musicians throughout the festival. Each night revellers can roam the streets of Skerries among the sounds of traditional and folk music. Sessions are hosted by many of the town’s pubs, including The Pierhouse Hotel, Keane’s Bus Bar, the Gladstone Inn, the Black Raven, Raff’s on the Corner, and Joe May’s Pub. Brilliant recitals and workshops are organized in the historic Skerries Mills and the Methodist Church. A Céilí with folk dancers and musicians performs on the last day of the festival.
The festival continues to evolve and grow, and it is now a major cultural event in the country. A fresh menu of workshops is offered every year. In recent years, workshops have focused on everything from Cape Breton style fiddling to piano accompaniment, and mastering the Uilleann pipes to sean-nós dancing. Each year, new events are also added to enhance the programme. In 2011, the festival ended with a celebration of the region’s music, song and dance on the grounds of the Argillan Castle. Also that year, the festival introduced Music on the Street with outdoor performers and entertainment. In 2012, artists visited local schools to perform and participate in workshops and demonstrations of traditional Irish instruments as part of a new schools programme.
Some venues, especially the Little Theatre and the Methodist Church, are small and fill quickly. Advanced ticket purchases are recommended if you plan to attend one of the recitals.