The 13th annual Donegal Bay and Blue Stacks Festival (Sep. 26 - Oct. 6) kicks off this weekendwith a packed programme of traditional and classical music, literary events, exhibitions and events for children, in Ardara, Killybegs, Donegal town, Ballyshannon and Ballybofey.
A Tribute to Johnny Doherty
The festival is very happy this year to link up with the hugely successful Johnny Doherty Music and Dancing Festival in Ardara to celebrate the legacy of the great Donegal fiddler. This year’s festival will see Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh of Altan unveiling a special memorial - a bust of John Doherty by sculptor Redmond Herrity - in the heart of the town on Thursday, evening September 26th.
The work has been commissioned by the Ardara branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and part-funded by Donegal County Council.
The festival will also feature a wonderful series of concerts, with: the award-winning Shetland / Northumberland quartet, Gria on Friday, September 27; Irish American band Cherish The Ladies on Saturday, September 28; and the Friel Sisters from Glasgow on Sunday, September 29.
A World of Music from Donegal to Senegal
Donegal Bay and Blue Stacks festival audiences can also look forward to the best of Donegal and visiting music with a fabulous double bill of the brilliant American oldtime band The Wiyos with Inishowen’s Kate O’Callaghan, at the Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey on Saturday, September 28. Ballybofey accordion player and former TG4 Young Musician of the Year, Martin Tourish, will be joined by Portnoo percussionist Eamonn Cagney and Congolese guitar player Niwel Tsumbu for an evening of traditional music explorations at Ardara Heritage Centre on the final night of the Festival, Sunday, October 6.
In between, audiences can enjoy Niamh Dunne with Sean óg Graham and Donagh Hennessy at McIntyre’s Bar in Dunkineely on Thursday, October 3 and Donegal’s own Fidil with Solo Cissokho from Senegal, at Aislann Chill Chartha, Kilcar on Friday, October 4.
Mayor of Donegal to open art exhibition
The Mayor of County Donegal, Cllr. Ian McGarvey, will preside at the Opening of the Meitheal Ealaíne art exhibition at 7.30pm in The Abbey Arts Centre, Ballyshannon on Saturday, September 28. The exhibition features work by Glencolmcille artists Deborah J. Stockdale, Margaret Cunningham, Ana Stromberg, Rik Walton and Micheal Doherty. It will be followed at 8pm by a special performance by the Donegal Junior Orchestra and Choir Ensemble. Both events are free of charge and all are welcome to attend.
‘River of Dreams’ and The Donegal Camerata
Clasical music and literature feature strongly in the opening weekend, with the second only public performance of Elaine Agnew’s specially commissioned piece, River of Dreams, by the Donegal Junior Orchestra and Choir Ensemble at The Abbey Arts Centre, Ballyshannon on Saturday evening, September 28 at 8pm. The performance is the culmination of special Peace III funded music project run by the Donegal Music Education Partnership, since early this year.
On the following afternoon (Sunday, September 29 at 3pm), the wonderful Donegal Camerata String Quintet will perform music by Mozart, Brahms, Benjamin Britten and Joaquín Malats in The Abbey Arts Centre, Ballyshannon, along with readings from poets Mary O’Malley and Afric McGlinchey.
The festival’s literary programme introduces the inaugural Noelle Vial Tyrone Guthrie Centre Poetry Bursary which will be awarded at a special celebratory night for the late Killybegs poet on Friday, September 27 at 22 Main Street, Killybegs.
Childrens Fun Afternoon at Donegal Craft Village
The festival is delighted to present a special fun-filed afternoon for children on Saturday, September 28, with kite-making workshops, magic shows, puppet theatre, storytelling and face painting, from 2-5pm, in the wonderful surroundings of Donegal Craft Village. Visitors will also have the opportunity to discover the myriad of delights the Donegal Craft Village has to offer, including the fine fare at the award-winning Aroma Coffee Shop and Bakery and meeting with the artists and crafts people who work and exhibit at the Village including sculptor Michael Griffith, ceramicist Sandrine Salvador, glass designers Elaine and Lyndsey McGonigle, handweaver Clare O’Presco, jeweller Niall Bruton and painter Johnny McCabe.
NorthWest Opera’s The Merry Widow
North West Opera will stage their 5th festival production when they present Franz Lehár’s much loved comic opera ‘The Merry Widow’ for two nights at the Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey on Friday, October 4 and Saturday 5. The hilarious story of a rich widow and her countrymen’s attempts to keep her money at home by finding her the right husband, it includes such popular songs and waltzes as ‘The Vilja Song’, ‘You’ll Find Me at Maxim’s’ and ‘The Merry Widow Waltz’. The local and international cast includes Ann Jennings, Jens Mueller, Diana Bryan-McLaughin, Markus Herzog, Andrew Galvin and Daniel Braddell.
‘The Country Boy’ in Ballyshannon, Glenties and Glencolmcille
Hot on the heels of the success of their hugely entertaining ‘Long Gone Lonesome Cowgirls’ for last year’s Festival, Balor Rep Theatre Company are back on the road this year with another audience favourite in John Murphy’s comedy ‘The Country Boy’. Featuring some of the finest acting talent in the North West, the play is a story of emigration, love, rural farm life, Americans on vacation, drink and many other goings-on. The drama follows Eddie Maher who returns to Ireland on holiday with his American wife, His younger, farm-bound, brother is adamant he is going back with the couple when they return.
Featuring Cathleen Bradley and Jack Quinn - who both appear in Conal Gallen’s current comedy hit, ‘A Bit On The Side’ - with Stephen Slowey, Sean Hanrahan, Carleen Melough and Caroline Bell, ‘The Country Boy’ can be seen at The Abbey Arts Centre, Ballyshannon on Wednesday, October 2; Glenties Community Centre on Friday, October 4 and Halla Mhuire, Gleann Choilm Cille on Sunday, October 6. All shows start at 8.30pm.
For further Programme Information, please check out the Donegal County Council Website www.donegalcoco.ie or ring the Festival Office at Donegal County Council Cultural Services, tel. 074 912 1968.