For the third year running, the Loinneog Lúnasa music and cultural festival will take place in Gaoth Dobhair from Aug. 10th to the 12th, with a varied, quality programme of events to entertain both visitors and locals of all ages.
Internationally acclaimed trad artists Altan and Steve Cooney will headline evening concerts during the weekend festival, as will An Crann Óg, the young Gaoth Dobhair trad group that has been drawing fans around the country.
“This is the third year of the festival, and our ambition is to grow it gradually,” said a spokesperson for the organising committee. “We want to concentrate on quality events and activities which reflect the strong influence the area has on Irish music and culture, and I think it’s obvious from this year’s programme that we’re taking a huge step forward in that respect with internationally renowned acts, thanks to support from Údarás na Gaeltachta, Foras na Gaeilge and our local sponsors.”
The festival programme is filled with music and dance, workshops, family events and fun.
On Saturday, the Family Fun Day at Ionad Naomh Pádraig, Dore, starts at 12 noon, with nature walks starting from the same centre at 2pm. At the Crannóg in Derrybeg, there will be a food and crafts market starting at 11am on Saturday.
On Sunday there will be a Family Day organised by Cumann na gCurrach Ghaoth Dobhair at the pier in Magheragallon. The festivities kick off at 2pm and will include a currach exhibition, music, food and other fun. Selki Sailing will also be there to provide an open session for anyone interested in trying a variety of watersports.
But of course, the Gaeltacht parish of Gaoth Dobhair is particularly known for Irish music and culture, and the heart of the weekend festival is culture: music, dancing and the Irish language. On Friday morning there will be a traditional music and creative dance workshop for children in the Leabharlann Ghaoth Dobhair, starting from 11am to 12 noon. This workshop is free of charge with more details available from the leabharlann, 074 9560862. Later, at 5pm on Friday, there is a poetry workshop in An Crannóg, with highly regarded Irish language poets, Máire Wren and Collette Ní Ghallchóir. The cost for the evening poetry workshop is €10 for adults and €5 for teenagers.
There are a number of top-class concerts over the weekend, kicking off in style on Friday at 8.30 with the local legends of Irish traditional music, Altan, taking the stage at Ionad Cois Locha, Dún Lúiche. Steve Cooney and Friends will perform at Ionad Cois Locha at 8.30pm on Saturday night. Both concerts are Tionscnamh Lúgh promotions.
Altan’s music has always been true to the roots from which it has grown, always injecting something new as they approach a set of tunes, or something beautiful when Mairead’s voice floats over slow air or a love song. Australian-born guitarist, bassist, producer and didgeridoo player Steve Cooney is one of the most dynamic modern performers in traditional music. He’s also a fine composer, known mainly for the reel Skidoo which was originally recorded by Stockton’s Wing and since recorded by Sharon Shannon amongst others.
Also on both nights there will be céilí and set dancing in Teach Jack in Glassagh, while on Friday night in Teach Hiudaí Beag in Bunbeg, there will be a night of music with the Derry and Antrim Fiddlers Association, who have become regular visitors to the area.
Saturday begins with music workshops in the Crannóg in Derrybeg, delivered by two internationally renowned musicians, Gay McKeown, CEO of ‘Na Píobairí Uilleann’, on uilleann pipes and Steve Cooney on guitar. Workshops run from 10am to 2pm and cost €20.
There’s something for the dancers young and old at 2pm on Saturday. That’s when the Irish-speaking Tura Arutura, who came to Belfast from his home place of Zimbabwe, offers a workshop in hip hop and sean nós. Booking for the workshop through the Crannóg, 074 9532208 or email@example.com. The workshop costs €5 and is supported by Ógras.
There will also be céilí and set dancing, including workshops, all weekend in Teach Jack in Glassagh. More information on that available from 074-9531173.
Singers will want to be in Teach Hiudaí Beag’s at 4.30pm on Friday for “Ailleog Cheoil”, an open singing session that is offered free of charge.
Following on from his very well-attended lecture at last year’s festival, RTÉ’s music archivist, Ian Lee, will give a presentation about the Donegal heritage in the RTÉ archives entitled “Oidhreacht cheoil Dhún na nGall I gCartlann RTE ó na 40dí & 50dí”. Ian’s address is scheduled for 2pm on Saturday in the music room at Ionad Naomh Pádraig.
“Draíocht na Mara” is a seafood-themed night which happens at Ionad Naomh Pádraig with music, food and craic, and more music from the Derry and Antrim Fiddlers Association. The always popular evening starts at 8.30pm and admission is €15.
After the fun at the pier on Sunday evening, there will be songs and plenty of craic with “Na Sinanigans” in Teach Shein Óig in Derrybeg from 6pm.
Then to finish off the weekend, there will be an evening of music and song in the world-famous home of Clannad and Enya, Teach Leo in Brinaleck, with the renowned local group of young trad musicians, An Crann Óg, and guests.
The full festival programme is available on www.loinneoglunasa.com and on Facebook.