TG4 Gradam Ceoil Musician of the year, Brian Rooney, is the special guest at this year’s John Joe Gordon Traditional Music Festival in Belleek this weekend.
The festival remembers one of Ireland’s greatest fiddle players and many top name musicians, including Ben Lennon, Danny Meehan ( 2012 TG4 Gradam Ceoil Lifetime Achievement Award), Pauline and Patsy Hanley, Kevin Abeyta, and the Gordon family will be playing this weekend.
The festival kicks off with a session in the Fiddlestone at 7pm on Friday, followed by the official opening by Ben Lennon in the Carlton Hotel at 9pm and a massive session. There’s another session at 10pm in the Fiddlestone, which will be broadcast live thanks to www.livetrad.com.
Saturday’s programme features a fiddle masterclass with Brian Rooney in the Wark Hall at 2pm, followed by an uilleann pipe demonstration and workshop at 4pm - pipes are provided so come along and have a go. Rosie Stewart will host a singing session at 4:30pm where Pauline Hanly will be special guest. All singers and listeners invited to come along and enjoy. There will be an afternoon session in Mc Morrows from 2pm on Saturday with many informal sessions in both Garrison and Belleek throughout the weekend.
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. The concert, with Gary Lynch as MC, will feature performances by: Danny Meehan 2012 TG4 Gradam Cheoil, recipent of the lifetime achievement award; Pauline and Patsy Hanly; Gary Curley, the Fermanagh Plearachna na nOg group; John Joe’s son Anthony, his grandchildren and great grandchildren; and, of course, Brian Rooney.
Born and reared near Kiltyclogher and now resident in London, Brian is looking forward to being back among neighbours, friends and family. The Rooney homestead was full to the rafters of music and John Timoney from Aughoo was a big influence on Brian’s introduction to music at the time. Brian’s fiddle playing has earned him a place at the very centre of London’s vibrant traditional music scenes since the 1970s and his recordings then and since have copper-fastened his status. His peers held him in such great esteem that he earned his nickname “The Godfather”, which was also the title of his debut solo recording.
On Sunday, there will be a private function for the residents of Shannagh Nursing Home at which once again visiting musicians will play. There will also be two workshops on Sunday both starting at 2pm. Pauline Hanly will take a singing class in the Fiddlestone Pub and her husband Patsy will take a flute Masterclass in the Wark Hall at 2pm – again all levels of flute players are invited to come along. The Lough Erne Ceili Band will play in the Black Cat Cove at 4pm. To conclude the weekend, sessions will be found in all venues throughout the day and the Slán Abháile session will round the weekend off 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.