Traditional Music Festival in Belleek this weekend

Belleek remembers one of Ireland’s greatest fiddle players, John Joe Gordon this weekend, with a festival of traditional music featuring special guest Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh and Ciaran Curran of Altan.

Belleek remembers one of Ireland’s greatest fiddle players, John Joe Gordon this weekend, with a festival of traditional music featuring special guest Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh and Ciaran Curran of Altan.

Also appearing over the weekend are Ben Lennon, Fr Seamus Quinn, Dessie O’Halloran, Tommy Peoples, Rita Gallagher, Gabriel McArdle, Brenda O’Callaghan.

The event, organised by CCE, is always highly anticipated and this year is no different, with a packed programme that is sure to please all traditional music, song and dance enthusiasts.

The festival starts at 9pm on Friday with a mixed Ceili in the Wark Hall, music by the Lough Erne Ceili Band. There will also be informal music sessions in all the village hostelries with visiting and local artistes providing entertainment.

Saturday afternoon features workshops. At 2pm, it’s Sean-Nos dance with Brenda O’Callaghan in the Wark Hall and singing with three time All Ireland Champion Rita Gallagaher in the Fiddlestone, followed by a session. At 4pm, Tommy Peoples will tutor a Fiddle Workshop in the Wark Hall for players from intermediate level upwards.

The focal point of the weekend will of course be the John Joe Gordon Commemorative Concert which will take place in the Gillaroo Centre, Garrison at 8.30pm on Saturday night. It will be preceded by the launch of Ben Lennon’s book ‘The Tailor’s Twist’ which Gabriel McArdle will introduce. An ideal Christmas present, the book will be for sale at a reduced rate. Recordings from all contributing artistes and John Joe Gordon’s CD ‘The Humours of Glendart’ will also be available for purchase throughout the weekend.

Saturday’s concert will feature recitals from the experts already mentioned and will include a performance by the Fermanagh CCE Youth Group which consists of members drawn from Derrylin, Derrygonnelly and Belleek. John Joe’s son Anthony, his grandchildren and great grandchildren will also take the stage. The highlight of the concert will of course be the performance of Altan’s, Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh.

Mairead founded Altan, together with her late husband Frankie Kennedy. Mairead is internationally regarded as one of the most important fiddle players who play in the unique Donegal style. She is in constant demand as a solo artist in addition to her pivotal role in Altan. She has recorded with a plethora of household names from diverse music genres including Enya, The Chieftains and Dolly Parton.

Fittingly, Mairead can recall playing with John Joe Gordon in Ballyshannon many years ago.

On Sunday, there will be a private function for the residents of Shannagh Nursing Home at which visiting musicians will play. To conclude the weekend, sessions will be found in all venues throughout the day and the Festival Finale will culminate in the Fiddlestone at 6pm.

This is indisputably a weekend of the highest calibre – to be enjoyed and welcomed by all, considering the wealth of musical talent on offer.