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The village of Ballydehob can look forward to a bumper weekend of Irish traditional music as the sixteenth annual Ballydehob Traditional Music Festival returns on this coming weekend Friday, March 31st – Sunday, April 2nd. Headlining this year’s festival line-up is one of Ireland’s finest traditional groups ‘Goitse’. Festivities will open on Friday, March 31st with a concert featuring the well-known group ‘Breaking Trad’ in Ballydehob Community Hall at 8pm. Breaking Trad includes Donal Murphy (Four Men & A Dog) on Button Accordion, David Doocey on Fiddle and Mike Galvin on Guitar. Their music has been described as ‘Dazzling’, ‘Unorthodox’ and ‘Unique’ and a great concert is promised with Breaking Trad to open the 2023 Festival. The Festival session trail will kick off in the village from 9.30pm in Levis's Bar (Bean Dolan, Dolcie Keogh & Friends), Rosie’s Bar (Pat Fleming, Maria Cotter & Friends), Irish Whip (Alan Finn & Joanne Quirke) and Sandboat Bar (Simon Crehan, Fionn O’Hanlon, Matt Basford and Conor Daly).

The festival workshops begin at 10am on Saturday morning in the Bank House with a chance for musicians to Try out the Uilleann Pipes facilitated by Na Piobairí Uilleann and the Cork Pipers Club. This is a great opportunity for musicians of all ages to try out the Uilleann Pipes and is free of charge. At 2.00pm in the Bank House, acclaimed traditional singer Elle Marie O’Dwyer from Freemount in North Cork will tutor a workshop in traditional singing. No singing experience is necessary to attend this workshop and all singers are welcome. There will be further sessions in the village on Saturday afternoon with Sandra Walsh, Mairead Carey & Friends at 4pm followed by music with Mary Crowley & Friends in the Sandboat Bar from 5pm. 

The Working Artists Studio will also host a number of exciting events during Saturday April 1st beginning including a humorous take on the ‘Art of Fooling’ at 11.15am followed at 12noon with a morning of Poetry and Song with Pól Ó Colmáin and Friends. An innovative project ‘Mouth Music’ will be launched at 2pm featuring an animated interactive experience by Pól O Colmáin and Colm Rooney featuring Paul’s tunes, mouth music and illustrations. To conclude a busy day in the Studio, you are invited to join Thaddeus Ó Buachalla and Friends for an evening of music and spoken word at 6.15pm

The main highlight of the weekend, the Festival All-Star concert with ‘Goitse’ takes place in Ballydehob Hall on Saturday evening starting at 8pm. Named Live Ireland’s “Traditional Group of the Year”, Goitse have become a leader of the new generation of traditional Irish ensembles. The group has released four critically acclaimed recordings and maintains a year round touring schedule that includes performances throughout Ireland and the UK, Germany, France and the United States. Their distinctive sound lies in the quality of their own compositions interspersed with traditional tunes from the countryside of Ireland and abroad, which make each performance unique. Laying the foundations for the music are All-Ireland Bodhrán champion Colm Phelan, and Conal O’Kane, who is fast making a name for himself as one of the finest guitarists of his generation. The gripping rhythm section sets a powerful drive for the music while the sweet, charismatic voice of Áine McGeeney draws audiences into a song the way few performers can. Goitse will joined in Ballydehob by well-known local musician Danny Collins from Rosscarbery.  Tickets for the concert are €20 for adults and €10 for Under 18 and can be purchased in advance from the festival website. Following the concert, the pub session trail will again fill the village with Irish traditional music starting at 9.30pm featuring a host of guest musicians including Alan Finn & Joanne Quirke in the Sandboat Bar, Clíona Halley and Darragh Carey Kennedy in Rosie’s Bar and Ciaran French, Hannah Collins & Donagh McElligot in the Irish Whip.

On Sunday April 14th, there will be another busy programme of events commencing with a historical walk of Ballydehob village with Eugene McSweeney starting from the Bank House at 12noon. The Schools Art Competition prizewinners will receive their prizes in Rosie’s Bar at 1pm and visitors are invited to visit the Aisling Gallery (upstairs Rosie’s Bar) to view an exhibition of the art work of the local school children.  A free lunchtime concert with Ger O’Donnell and Maria Ryan will follow at 2pm in Rosie’s Bar. Ger O’Donnell is one of Ireland’s finest singers and musicians and will be joined by Maria Ryan who is a member of the acclaimed ensemble Strung.

From 2.30pm, the Hughie Kennedy and Tony Corbett will set feet tapping in Ballydehob Community Hall at the Festival Céilí. Meanwhile, an exciting programme of afternoon sessions will fill the village pubs with music from 2pm with the Youth Session in the Irish Whip, Pat Fleming and Maria Cotter in Levis’ Bar and Alan Finn and Friends in the Sandboat, before the final session of the festival gets underway in Rosie’s bar at 6pm where all musicians are welcome to join in with Mary Crowley and John Connelly.

The Festival organisers wish to pay tribute to their main sponsors Cork County Council, Arts Council, West Cork Distillers and to the support they have received in maintaining and promoting the proud tradition of Irish music in the village from local West Cork businesses.  For further information on the festival, visit, or contact Ann Redmond at 028-37676

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