Cork Folk Festival - Cork, Ireland  1-3rd October 2021



The 41st Cork Folk Festival will take place on the 1-4th of October 2020.

John Spillane with Pauline Scanlon

A Corkman true and true John Spillane in no stranger to the Cork Folk Festival, he first performed at the songwriters contest in the Phoenix bar in early 1980’s and then featured with the Stargazers, Nomos, as a duo with Declan Sinnott and on numerous occasions as a solo performer. Since then John has become one of the most accomplished singer-songwriters in Ireland today and was twice a winner of the Irish Meteor Award.  John is set to release his first independent release; 100 Snow White Horses. The CD is inspired by his travels around Ireland, these new songs are full of poetry, Irish mythology and wonder.

I sing John Spillane songs everywhere I go. John has been my favourite songwriter for the past ten years.   Christy Moore

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Pauline Scanlon

Pauline was born in Dingle Co Kerry and has been singing professionally since she was 15 years old. As a vocalist, Pauline has performed and recorded with a wide range of artists including Damien Dempsey, Sinéad O’Connor, Eleanor Shanley, Karan Casey, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Andrea Corr, John Spillane and Seamus Begley. In 2009, Scanlon along with fellow West Kerry chanteuse Éilís Kennedy formed the vocal group LUMIERE and subsequently signed to SONY records in Ireland. They released their self-titled debut album in September of that year to widespread critical acclaim and followed it up with their second release ‘My Dearest Dear” in March 2013.  Pauline has just begun to record her third solo album this year. She has re-united with her longtime collaborator and producer John Reynolds (Seun Kuti, Herbie Hancock, Damien Dempsey, Sinead O’Connor) on what promises to be an emotionally charged album of songs both traditional and otherwise!


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The Bonny Men

The Bonny Men comprised of seven individuals – each masters of their own instruments with titles among them including multiple All-Ireland Champions, World Bodhrán Champion, and a recipient of the prestigious TG4 “Young Musician of the Year” – The Bonny Men generate a powerful sound that encapsulates the very soul of traditional music. Singing a mixture of original and contemporary folk songs, laden with creative harmonies, and playing sets of tunes bursting with explosive energy, their music always delivers. Since forming in January 2011, The Bonny Men quickly and deservedly became the most talked about and exciting acts to emerge in the Irish trad / folk music scene.

“A reputation for electric live performances with an energy reminiscent of the legendary Bothy Band.”  Hot Press

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Strung are a contemporary Irish music ensemble comprising Maria Ryan, Lucia Mac Partlin, Maria O’Connor and Aonghus McCarthy. Originally forming in Cork, they have toured extensively in Ireland, Europe and the US.

 “A new approach to the tradition using the rarely heard instrumentation of piano, two fiddles and cello. It is a must listen for lovers of the tradition as well as forward thinking innovators within music” - Pádraig Rynne

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Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh with Nia Byrne & Manus Lunny

Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh’s name is synonymous with what’s good in the music and culture of her native County Donegal, Ireland. Born in the Gaeltacht area of Gaoth Dobhair, where Gaeilge was her main language, she learned her songs and tunes from her family and neighbours. Mairéad along with performing with the world renowned traditional group Altan also features with the group, T with the Maggies, Na Mooneys, String Sisters and recently she has recorded 13 Donegal based female fiddlers which is called SíFiddlers.  Mairéad’s first memorable visit to the folk festival was in 1984 when she travelled from Donegal to perform at the Metropole Hotel with Frankie Kennedy. Mairead will be accompanied by her daughter Nia Byrne on fiddle and Bouzouki player Manus Lunny at here Opera House concert.

“Mairead Ni Mhaonaighs’ beautiful airs had us begging for more. Every corner seemed to echo with her voice long after the music had stopped”

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Karan Casey with Niamh Dunne & Sean Óg Graham

Karan Casey has long been recognized as one of the most innovative, provocative and imitated voices in Irish traditional and folk music. Karan has released 7 solo albums and has toured extensively throughout North America, Europe and Japan. She performs with her own band as well as collaborating with such diverse musicians as James Taylor, Bela Fleck, Boston Pops Orchestra, Liam Clancy, Maura O’Connell, The Chieftains, The Dubliners, Solas and Lúnasa. Karan recently released her new album, Hieroglyphs That Tell the Tale on the Vertical Records Label. Long time Beoga members Niamh Dunne and Sean Óg Graham joined forces in 2013 to record   the critically acclaimed song album “Portraits”. Featuring Sean Óg on guitar, bouzouki and accordion, the album features a special collection of songs gathered together after 10 years on the road with Beoga.  Beoga has long been heralded as one of the most innovative and exciting bands in Irish music over the last decade. As a duet, Dunne and Graham perform traditional and folk songs as well as playing newly composed tunes. A musician of supreme talent and versatility, Graham’s own unique style of accompaniment and box playing, matched with the solid fiddle playing and powerhouse of Dunne, make for a vibrant assortment of songs and tunes, both old and new.

Karan Casey has long been a heart-on-her-sleeve type of person, whether she’s singing or speaking, and this past year has seen her do plenty of both. Boston Irish Reporter interview, Sean Smith

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Lee Valley String Band

The Lee Valley String Band, Ireland’s longest-lived bluegrass and old-time group, perform to huge audiences annually through their regular gigs with the Lee Sessions.   Formed in 1968 by the late Chris Twomey and the Toner brothers, Niall   and Colm, the LVSB have been through several permutations in their forty-seven (and counting) years and now comprise Mick O’Brien (guitar, vocals), Brendan Butler(mandolin, vocals), Mick Daly (banjo, vocals), and Hal O’Neill (fiddle), Ian Knepper (Fiddle) and Siona Knepper (Bass). The Lee Valley return to The Malt Shovel now called An Spailpin Fanach where they started out nearly over 50 years ago.

IF YOU want a unique musical experience, full of joyous, foot-stomping American songs like the Yellow Rose of Texas or Are You from Dixie?, there’s no need to head to Austin or Alabama, no sir. Go to Cork. David Monagan.


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Greenshine plus Martin Leahy

GREENSHINE is a Cork based family trio comprising Noel Shine, Mary Greene and their daughter Ellie. Their material straddles the boundaries of contemporary, folk and roots and includes many self-penned songs. The band is known for striking family harmonies and excellent musicianship. Noel is a multi-instrumentalist, turning his hand to guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo, bouzouki and traditional whistle and this musical dexterity had seen him much in demand as a session and band player by artists as diverse as The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem and funk and soul legends The Republic of Loose amongst many others. Mary brings rhythm guitar to the mix and her voice is a wonderfully versatile instrument. She has added her talents to the albums of Christy Moore, John Spillane, Mick Hanly and Frances Black as well as cult psychedelic outfit Dr. Strangely Strange. As a duo, Noel and Mary have released 3 critically acclaimed albums to date ~ The Land You Love the Best (placed no. 3 in The Irish Times Folk albums of the year of its release), Unspoken Lines (described as ‘The heart and soul of folk music, coming from a deeper well…,’ by John Spillane) while Mary’s solo, Sea of Hearts, earned an impressive 8 out of 10 in Hot Press.

Their single SHADOWLAND continued the band’s upward trend with Jim Lockhart of Horslips commenting: ” It’s lovely – tasty horn and really nice writing and performance.” The song was playlisted on stations around the country and, again, received much airplay on RTE Radio 1 earning them an interview and live 2 song performance on RTE’s flagship arts show Arena.
It was immense encouragement from fans, too many to count, that made the trio decide to release CITY OF DREAMS from the album as a single. People are fascinated by the romantic story of Kurt Cobain discovering Irish roots and the story and song hold people enraptured when they hear it live. The storytelling element of Mary Greene’s songwriting is what seems to capture people’s imagination most – that and the melodic structure which can often be an element missing from a lot of modern writing and which makes Ron Sexsmith, Paul Simon, The Beatles and writers who employ those skills to perfection amongst the bands’ favourites.

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Martin Leahy

Martin is a musician who lives in Cork. He plays a number of instruments and has played with many musicians on the Irish music scene including; North Cregg, Ger Wolfe, Cormac O ‘Caoimh, Blind Poets and Small Town Talk.

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A Celebration of Sliabh Luachra, Eoin ‘Stan’ O’Sullivan (fiddle), Lisa O Sullivan (fiddle), Bryan O Leary (accordion), Emma O’ Leary (fiddle), Maura O Connor (fiddle).

The region known as Sliabh Luachra occupies the rural area where the counties of Cork, Kerry and Limerick meet. While it is not clearly defined, the region encompasses villages such as Scartaglin, Cordal, Brosna, Rockchapel, Newmarket, Ballydesmond, Gneeveguilla and Knocknagree to name but a few. Sliabh Luachra has become synonymous with a unique style of traditional Irish music and repertory comprised largely of slides and polkas.



Aoife Scott

Born into the legendary Black Family, Aoife is steadily rising to the top of the traditional and folk music scene and has long enjoyed success as an established artist in her own right. Recent Accolades include being named Best Folk Act at the Irish Post Music Awards (IRE), beating stiff competition in the category with the legendary Christy Moore, Dublin folk band Lankum as well as Limerick singer Emma Langford. She also claimed the award of Emerging Artist of the Year at the Live Ireland Awards (US) in June 2018. In 2019, her most recent song “The December Letter” won Single of the Year at the ALSR Celtic Music Awards (US) and was the most played Christmas song on RTE Radio 1 for December 2018. Aoife’s single “All Along the Wild Atlantic Way” also hit the number 1 slot, knocking Ed Sheeran off the top spot and was named “Song of the Year” at the Irish Folk Music Awards in 2017. Aoife releases her first single from the upcoming album this October with an Irish Tour, and full album release of her album “HomeBird” is due January 2020.

 “A fiery passionate young talent springing from a fine musical family. ”

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Leah Sohorto

Leah Sohotra is a singer/songwriter living in Blarney Co Cork. Originally from Vermont, and having lived in Ireland for eight years, her imagery draws heavily on rural American and Irish landscapes. Her work also draws from classical literature and folk tradition, nursery rhymes and epic poetry and therefore the subjects are often animals and mythical creatures. The themes of the songs are based on personal experiences of loss, love, violence, heartbreak and motherhood.

The ten song album, Breaded Crickets, is a work brought together by the musical prowess and ingenuity of multi-instrumentalist Martin Leahy who features on the album playing well over a dozen different instruments. The album also features guest vocals by the highly acclaimed songwriter Mick Flannery who also co-wrote one of the tracks.

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“Cork 1920: A City in Flames”,

Launch of a new CD “Cork 1920: A City in Flames”, which commemorates Cork’s contribution to the War of Independence.The recording features twelve original songs written by songwriters John Murphy, Tim O’Riordan and Cliff Wedgbury and is interspersed with historical information narrated by Gerry Miller. The CD will be launched at the Kino on Wednesday 30th Sept 2020. Any proceeds from the sale of CDs will go to Alana; Butterfly Life.


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Book Launch Becoming an Irish Traditional Musician -Jessica Cawley

The book features a collection of interviews with trad musicians the like Martin Hayes, Mary Bergin, Matt Cranitch, Hammy Hamilton, Tomas O Canainn, Connie O’Connell, Conal O’Grada, Mick Daly, and many more.


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Katie Theasby

A self taught singer and flute/whistle player, Katie started her performing career in London, where she played with Ron Kavana’s band Alias for a couple of years around pubs, clubs and festivals, including an appearance at the Glastonbury Festival at the age of 14.

Kilfenora became Katie’s permanent home in 1995 and she has been playing in sessions and festivals around County Clare and further afield since then. During that time, she was lucky to have played with incredible musicians such as Tommy Peoples, Kitty Linnane, Paddy Mullins, Sean Tyrrell, JJ Conway and many others

Diversity & Equality have always been values close to Katie’s heart since she was a child. She has been part of the Celebration Of Traveller Music nights both in Dublin and Listowel, which are organised by a group of people from both the Traveller and settled community, to celebrate the diversity of Irish music and the contribution Travellers have made and still make to this day.

In recent years, Katie has performed with artists such as Finbar Furey, Paddy Keenan, Stocktons Wing, and Kinky Friedman among others.
She released a video of the song “I Remember You Singing This Song, Ma” in 2017, which received great praise. The song was written by Finbar Furey who suggested that she should record it.


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Anna Mieke

Anna Mieke is the musical project of Anna-Mieke Bishop, who performs on Greek bouzouki, guitar and piano. Themes and inspiration for Anna Mieke’s songs stem from a colourful background of experience: learning Maori songs at school in New Zealand; hitch-hiking through Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, picking up traditional songs along the way; cycling from her home in Wicklow to the southern tip of Spain; living in Granada for a time, and then, in Cork, performing cello in the experimental improv group, HEX.

As a solo performer and collaborative artist, she has joined forces with a diverse mélange of other artists, most notably Brían Mac Gloinn (of folk duo Ye Vagabonds), who adds drones on Indian harmonium and fiddle. Other, more recent, collaborators are Matthew Jacobson (of contemporary jazz ensemble Insufficient Funs) adding percussion and Ryan Hargadon on saxophone, clarinet and synth.

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