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Successful Sophomore Year for Wexford Trad & Folk

Zoe Conway John McIntyre John Sheahan

“One of the nicest gigs of my life” said Louth fiddle sensation Zoë Conway about her sold-out concert at the National Opera House. The concert was part of the Wexford Trad & Folk Weekend organised by Craobh Loch Garman Comhaltas. 

Zoë was accompanied by guitarist John McIntyre, and special guest John Sheahan of The Dubliners. While the latter, the only surviving member of the original line-up of The Dubliners, may have been the main attraction for some it was plain to see why Conway and McIntyre have been described as “one of the best folk duos on the planet”, such was the virtuosity and versatility of their playing. The pair handled ‘Tune for a Found Harmonium’ with great zest, Zoë imbuing it with a rare finesse. And the wild abandon displayed in their playing of bluegrass staple ‘Orange Blossom Special’ drew hoots of appreciation from the delighted audience. John Sheahan’s trademark fireside manner, his instantly recognisable fiddle playing and his many droll stories showed that, while he may be in his 80th year, he is as brilliantly entertaining as ever. And yes, he did play his much-loved party-piece ‘The Marino Waltz’. 

Daoiri Farrell

Folk singer Daoirí Farrell was the sole attraction at the second of the weekend’s evening concerts when he appeared at Wexford Arts Centre on Saturday. The award-winning, bouzouki-wielding Dubliner has drawn praise from musicians and critics alike, Donal Lunny labelling him “one of the most important traditional singers to emerge in the last decade”. His rendition of the old favourite ‘Biddy Mulligan’ amply displayed his ability to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. With charm to go with his undoubted talent one can see how Daoirí Farrell may well dominate the folk scene for decades to come.

WT&FW is about bringing top class trad and folk music to Wexford and encouraging greater appreciation of the traditional arts in the area. In this, its second year, it is apparent that the festival is succeeding on both fronts.

Peter Browne Tuning the Radio

The weekend was formally opened at Wexford Library on Thursday last by the Mayor, Cllr George Lawlor. The occasion was an illustrated lecture, ‘Tuning the Radio’, by Peter Browne, for years the warm and distinctive voice of RTE Radio 1’s The Rolling Wave.

Throughout the weekend there were late night sessions including an opening night knees-up at the Thomas Moore Tavern and a gathering of Wexford’s top traditional and folk singers at Mary’s Bar the following night.

Marys bar session

Cuirtear tús le Seachtain na Gaeilge ag eachtra i gComhairle Contae Loch Garman, Carrig Leathan trathnóna Dé hAoine agus bhí preab-Gaeltacht le Conradh na Gaeilge in Ionad Ealaín Loch Garman an mhaidin in a dhiaidh sin.

There was an educational side to the weekend with Wexford Music Generation supported workshops taking place at CBS. These were led by some of the country’s most talented players of Irish traditional music. The subsequent Tutors Concert at the National Opera House was, for many, the highlight of the festival. Opening were Zoë Conway and John McIntyre who picked up from where they had left the night before; they were followed by singer Niamh Parsons, uilleann piper Pádraig Mc Govern and harpist Eilís Lavelle, flautist Tom Doorley, and Peter ‘Box’ Browne accompanied by Rónán Ó Snodaigh on bodhrán.

music tutors collage

The sizeable Saturday morning crowd that turned up at Greenacres to hear novelist and poet Dermot Bolger and John Sheahan were royally rewarded with a ninety-minute mix of unscripted wit, humour, anecdotes, poems and stories, and, from Sheahan, some delightful music on tin-whistle and fiddle.

Dermot Bolger John Sheahan

Aileen Lambert and Michael Fortune delved into the traditional songs and folklore of Wexford in a Saturday afternoon presentation at Wexford Arts Centre that combined audiovisual material and live performance, including a couple of songs sung by their children.

Aileen Mick children

The Saturday night Festival Hootenanny attracted a huge crowd to The Sky & The Ground. James McIntyre and Brian Quirke opened. They were followed by artist and songwriter Fran Greene, acclaimed folk singer J eoin, Kíla’s dynamic frontman Rónán Ó Snodaigh and folk to bluegrass singer/guitarist Fergal O’Hanlon. Last up was the mind-altering ‘Cursed Murphy versus the Resistance’ whose charismatic frontman instilled awe and terror in equal measure!

Daoiri and Mark

Towards the end of Sunday afternoon’s Farewell Concert at St Iberius Church, Mark Redmond, the acclaimed uilleann piper from Gorey, reflected on what a marvellous weekend it had been, wistfully expressing the view that every weekend should be as good as this one. Mark and Daoirí Farrell closed out the festival with a terrific show during which the pair traded songs, tunes and stories that delighted the audience from start to finish.

In organising this, and other events, there is no doubt the local Comhaltas branch has its eye on the grand prize: Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. Enniscorthy hosted the event in 1999 and 2000. Given the buzz around the town over the weekend one cannot help but feel that Wexford Town is well prepared to take on what is now the biggest trad music festival in the World.

Craobh Loch Garman Chairman Matt Murphy expressed the appreciation of the branch for the support given by Wexford County Council, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Wexford Music Generation, WWETB, Dept. of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Seachtain na Gaeilge and Creative Ireland.

Five of the star attractions at the Wexford Trad Folk Weekend Tutors Concert at the National Opera House i r Rónán Ó Snodaigh Pádraig McGovern Peter Browne Tom Doorley Eilís Lavelle pic Michael Duggan


Click here to see the 2020 programme


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Comhaltas Logo

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is the largest group involved in the preservation and promotion of Irish traditional music. We’re a non-profit cultural movement with hundreds of local branches around the world, and as you can read in our history we’ve been working for the cause of Irish music since the middle of the last century (1951 to be precise). Our efforts continue with increasing zeal as the movement launches itself into the 21st century.

An Tobar: Ionad Gaeilge agus Cultúir


Is Ionad Gaeilge agus Cultúir é An Tobar atá suite i mBaile Loch Garman. Tá idir eagraíochtaí ceoil, Gaeilge, damhsa agus amhránaíochta lonnaithe ag An Tobar.