THE MUSIC of Ireland, Scotland, and Canada will resound throughout Galway from Sunday June 12 to Sunday 19 during The Galway Sessions, the city’s annual celebration of traditional music.
Alan Kelly, Dervish, Beoga, John Spillane, and pipers from the Royal Scottish Academy are just some of the acts who will be playing the festival which is now in its 10th year.
“I see the festival as a flagship for traditional music in Galway,” festival organiser Mick Crehan tells me. “It’s an opportunity to show the excellent level of traditional music in Galway and it’s important Galway has a once a year celebration of out native culture. It also allows us to explore the connections between Irish music and its related musics in Scotland and Canada, something which is close to my heart.”
The big gigs
The major gigs this year are from Beoga, Dervish, and Alan Kelly.
Beoga play The Crane on Friday June 17 and Saturday 18 at 9pm. “They are a prime example of a modern young, trad band, very energetic and very lively,” says Mick. “They take music from different parts of Ireland and mix it with US folk. They have been very successful, particularly in the US, where they were nominated for a Grammy in 2010. That is huge as the only other Irish trad band to be nominated and win one was The Chieftains.”
Sligo’s Dervish play Monroe’s Live on Friday 17 at 8.30pm. “Dervish are one of the most successful trad bands of all time,” says Mick. “They are right up there with The Chieftains, Altan, and Lúnasa. What I like about them is that they are all from the Sligo/Roscommon region, and that they have taken that style, brought it to an international platform, and remained faithful to it, and I’m just mad about Kathy Jordan’s singing.”
Accordion great Alan Kelly will also play the festival and he has organised a series of gigs for The Galway Sessions - Kelly’s Heroes at The King’s Head.
The Alan Kelly Quartet - Stephanie Geremia (flute ), Tola Custy (fiddle ), Tony Byrne (guitar ) and Alan on accordion - will play St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church on Friday 17 ay 8pm.
The Kelly’s Heroes gigs begin on Monday 13 with Newfoundland box, fiddle and guitar trio Graham Wells, Billy Sutton, and Dwayne Andrews, playing Irish influenced folk music of the eastern Canadian province.
Banjo, mandolin, and fiddle player Mary Shannon, and friends, play on Tuesday 14. On Wednesday 15 it’s fiddle and flute duo Stephanie Geremia and Maureen Browne with Johnny ‘Ringo’ McDonagh and Gerry Paul. On Thursday 16 The Trossach Sounds will bring Scottish trad to The King’s Head; and on Friday 17 singer and multi instrumentalist Niamh Ní Chara will be joined by Paddy Kerr, Dominic Keogh and Johannes Fromseier.
All gigs start at 3pm and admission is free.
Other shows to look out for include Ulster fiddle and flute duo Dermie Diamond and Tara Bingham in St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church on Monday 13 at 8pm. The church will also host The Kinlochard Ceili Band and the Royal Scottish Academy Pipers on Wednesday 15 at 8pm.
Kathleen Loughnane and Seosaimhín Ní Bheaglaoich play The Crane Bar on Thursday 16 at 9pm; Fling will bring their mix of Russian, South American, and Irish Trad to Monroe’s Live on Thursday 17 at 10.30pm; one of Galway’s favourite singer-songwriters, Don Stiffe, plays Monroe’s Live at 9.30pm; while the great John Spillane plays the Róisín Dubh at Sunday 19 at 9pm.
As part of The Galway Sessions The Crane Bar will host a series of ‘super sessions’, with free admission. The ‘super sessions’ start on Sunday 12 at 9pm with Highland Fling, a night of Scottish music and dance; on Monday 13 at 9.30pm, Canadian musicians will host a session where anyone can bring an instrument, sing a song, or put on a pair of dancing shoes.
On Tuesday 14 at 9.30pm flute and fiddle duo John Wynne and John McEvoy will play; on Wednesday 15 at 9.30pm Lúnasa’s Kevin Crawford, De Danann’s Mick Conneely, and Tony Linnane, will take to the stage; on Saturday 18 at 6.30pm Scottish singer and piper Griogair Labhraidh and Síle Denvir will perform.
Street events and talks
Big Rory, Ochie, and The Seagulls, some of the funniest, cleverest and most professional street performers you will ever encounter, are back at The Sessions so keep an eye on the streets for their antics.
Watch out also for shows from the Royal Scottish Academy led by Pipe Major Adam Moore and highland dancing from Narissa Home and Eileen MacRobert on Shop Street daily at 2pm.
On Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 at 7pm in the Galway City Museum, harpist Kathleen Loughnane will give a recital and public lecture on Irish harp music in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Mick Crehan is very keen to preserve and promote the strong cultural ties that exist between Scotland and Ireland and this lies behind the sister festival, The Stirling Sessions, in Stirling, Scotland from June 20 to 26.
Irish performers travelling to Stirling for the week are: Seán Ryan, Kathleen Loughnane, Cormac Cannon, Breda Keville, Cormac Begley, Greg Cotter, Mary Flanagan, Harry Donaldson, Mick Crehan, Emma O’Sullivan, Little John Nee, and Mattie Hynes.
For more information, tickets, and booking see www.galwaysessions.com or contact The Crane on 091 - 587419.