Arts Column 11.07.16

Earagail Festival starts

Arts Column 11.07.16

Chouk Bwa Libete

The 2016 Earagail Arts Festival gets underway this weekend.

The annual celebration of theatre, music, arts and culture runs from Friday July 8th to Sunday July 24th. Obviously there’s too much going on to list everything here – log on to for that. But here’s a quick list of day by day recommendations for the first week of the festival (Friday 8th to Thursday 14th July).

Friday 8th to Sunday 10th July is primarily about the Swell Festival on Arranmore Island. The Earagail Festival is curating the Mountain Stage hosting emerging artists, national and international guests from IRelan, Scotland and the USA. Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band and Donal Dineen are two of the names that jump out at me here.

If you don’t fancy island hopping and camping this weeken, then I’d direct you towards the Balor in Ballybofey for ex Moving Hearts saxophonist Keith Donald’s incredibly powerful memoir NewBliss – that’s on Sunday July 10th.

There’s another chance to see NewBliss on Monday 11th at The Holy Trinity Parish Hall in Dunfanaghy. There’s more drama on Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th as Prime Cut Productions present Scorch at An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny. Inspired by recent court cases, this story of first love through the eyes of a gender-curious teen won Best New Play at the 2015 Irish Times Theatre Awards.

Also on Wednesday 13th is Bellows and Bows at The Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny (behind An Grianan on the Port Road). This evening of uileann pipes and fiddle music features tutors from this years Ceol na Coille Summer School including uileann pipers Padraig McGovern, Ciaran MacFheidhlimidh and Paul Harrigan, harpist Sabina McCague and Paul Bradley, Martin Quinn and Michael McCague on fiddles, button accordion and guitar respectively.

Another Regional Cultural Centre gig to look out for during this first week of Earagail is Haitian voodoo roots band Chouk Bwa Libete. According to the press these are one of the most sought after, truly authentic world music groups on the international stage. Now I’ll be the first to confess that I don’t exactly know what Haitian voodoo roots entails but all the more reason to go and check them out – it’s not everyday you’re going to get to hear this kind of music in Letterkenny.

Also on Thursday is Paddy Cullivan’s Solutionism at The Balor, Ballybofey. Paddy is an incredibly talented musician and comedian – which seems a bit unfair, most of us struggle to be good at just one thing. He’s the leader of The Late Late Show House Band, writes for RTE Radio One’s Callan’s Kicks and also manages to put together his own stage shows in his spare time. Solutionism is a comedy take on Ireland today, how to put it right all while saving something in the region of €64m in the process.

That’s a very brief synopsis of Earagail Arts Festivals Week One. As I say, there’s much much more happening than listed above so log on to for the full programme. You can also buy tickets online or, if you want to talk to a human, the festival box office is located at An Grianan, Letterkenny on 0749120777.