With Safe Harbour out of the way, music fans on Leeside switch attention to the second big event of a busy festival season, as Cork Folk Festival looms on the horizon. Running from September 27 to October 1, the 44th edition of the festival will again shine the spotlight on Cork talents, as well as welcoming musicians and singers from all corners of the island and beyond.
Organisers say that more than 200 musicians will be taking part in about 40 concerts and sessions across the city in such venues as the Everyman, Triskel, and An Spailpín Fánach.
Musicians entertaining those attending the launch of Cork Folk Festival. Picture: David Keane.
Among the international musicians playing in Cork this year is Martin Carthy. The 82-year-old legend from Hertfordshire taught ‘Scarborough Fair’ to both Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, and was a member of Steeleye Span. A regular visitor to Ireland through the decades, the 2023 event is his first visit to Cork since the death of his wife and music collaborator Norma Waterson last year.
Among the other big names announced at the launch at St Peter’s on North Main St on Tuesday evening were Sharon Shannon, Mary Coughlan, and Frances Black. That impressive trio join forces for the headline concert at Cork Opera House.
John Allen, Ballincollig, and Anthony Cummins, UCC, at the launch of Cork Folk Festival. Picture: David Keane
As well as music, the annual céilí mór is among the events catering for dancers, while Karan Casey brings a touch of theatre with a show at the Everyman, and John Murphy leads a walking/singing tour of the city.
While launching the festival, Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Kieran McCarthy spoke of how the event had been a constant through the ups and downs of Cork’s economy through the decades since the 1970s.
He also spoke of the importance of such events for bringing people together. “A more connected community is a safer community for everyone living in it, because with building stronger relationships comes more opportunities to talk, share, and support each other.”
For full details, see https://www.corkfolkfestival.com/
Lord Mayor launches Cork Folk Festival, with a song
One of the longest-running folk festivals in Ireland will return to venues across Cork city at the end of September writes Pádraig O’Connor
SEP 13, 2023
Cork Folk Festival was officially launched, in style, by Lord Mayor Cllr. Kieran McCarthy, who gave a rousing rendition of The Banks of My Own Lovely Lee at a curtain raiser in St. Peter’s Church on North Main Street.
The 44th edition of the folk festival runs from September 27 until October 1. Just as with Sounds from a Safe Harbour, which closed this past weekend, the folk festival will take place in venues across the city, with events also stretching into the suburbs.
At the launch night, the Lord Mayor spoke about the necessity of festivals in the city and how Cork Folk Festival is “an important piece of the festival scene, as some festivals come and go, but this one is still going as strong as ever”.
It’s a festival that “packs an enormous punch” the Lord Mayor added, and he was keen to emphasise the quality of music that will be on show, and in so many different venues on both sides of the river. This year’s programme features 35 events and will bring over 200 musicians to the city.
Included in the lineup for the five-day festival this year, are Frances Black, Sharon Shannon and Mary Coughlan, all well established and household names by now. But, as Jim Walsh, chairman of the festival told those in attendance last night, “all played in the festival many years ago when they were completely unknown, young up and coming musicians”.
Other notable performers on the bill at the end of the month are Ron Block, Martin Carthy, Siobhán O’ Brien, as well as John Spillane and Cónal Creedon.
Fiddlers at the launch of the Cork Folk Festival in St Peter’s Church. Credit: OSM Photography
Festival directors Jim Walsh and William Hammond shared the mic at the launch, with Walsh outlining the change in how the festival is received in the city, mentioning that in its inaugural year in 1979, traditional music “was not as welcome in the city”, but he was thrilled that that was no longer the case.
Hammond for his part was looking forward to many of the wonderful acts that will be coming to Cork this year, but on a more poignant note, also wished to remember some of the people who were integral parts of the festival’s success down through the years, but sadly are no longer with us. These included Timmy ‘The Brit’ McCarthy, Tony Grace and Seamus Begley.
There were live performances at the launch by Karan Casey, singing a song from her upcoming new show The Women, We Will Rise, which will take place in The Everyman Theatre, as well a song each by Áine Kelliher of the Cork Singers Club, a duet featuring Mary Greene and Noel Shine, and finally, a beautiful song by John Neville, who will play a special intimate gig in Coughlan’s Bar.
The Douglas Comhlatas band provided tunes for the evening, and all in attendance were given a wonderful flavour of what audiences can expect throughout the festival.
Douglas Comhlatas perform at the launch night. Credit: OSM Photography
Six events to look out for at this year’s Cork Folk Festival:
Karan Casey – The Women, We Will Rise @ The Everyman Theatre from Wednesday September 27 until Saturday September 30. Theatrical Song Cycle asking questions about the women of Ireland, past, present and future.
Damien O’ Kane & Ron Block @ Triskel ChristChurch Friday September 29 BBC 2 Radio Folk Award Winner joins forces with Alison Krauss & Union Station banjo star
William Jack @ Cork City Library Saturday September 30 Multi-style cello recital exploring genres and cultures from around the globe
A lunchtime concert with John Spillane and Conal Creedon @ Triskel Christchurch 1pm
Martin Carthy, Matt Cranitch & Jackie Daly @Triskel Christchurch Saturday September 30 One of folk music’s greatest innovators, joined by two acknowledged masters of the rich musical tradition of Sliabh Luachra.
Frances Black, Sharon Shannon & Mary Coughlan @ Cork Opera House Sunday October 1 Three legendary acts performing their own sets followed by everyone coming back onstage for an encore.
Cork-based folk pioneer Karen Casey opens her new show in The Everyman this month.
Cork Independent Reports
Karen Casey to open new show at The Everyman
A rallying cry to progress the female narrative in the Irish folk tradition has rung out across the nation in the form of Cork-based singer Karan Casey’s new show ‘The Women, We Will Rise’.
Co-produced with The Everyman, Karen’s latest work previews on 27 September before opening the following day.
‘The Women, We Will Rise’ is a theatrical song cycle exploring the experiences of gallant women from our nation’s past, placing them centre stage and projecting them as a vision for the women of the future.
The show is directed by leading theatre and opera director Tom Creed who is well known to Cork audiences with recent work including ‘Watt’ by Samuel Beckett, ‘Conversations After Sex’ by Mark O’Halloran, ‘Sure Look It, Fuck It’ by Clare Dunne, and ‘I Am Tonie Walsh’ by Phillip McMahon and Tonie Walsh.
Foregrounding the experiences and nuances of women’s lives from the revolutionary period, Casey has written songs about her own great grandmother Agnes Ryan of the hotel, a mother of 12 children and a Cumann na mBan member. Other figures from that era, such as Kathleen Clarke from Limerick and Countess Markievicz, also feature, while legendary figure from Irish folklore, an Chailleach keeps an eye on proceedings.
“Agnes Ryan of the hotel was my great grandmother,” explains Karen.
“In 2016 I was invited by my granduncle Jacko to sing at the unveiling of a plaque for Pakie Ryan of the hotel, her husband. He was the head centre of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), and he ran operations in Doon, Co. Limerick. And while I have found a lot of information about Pakie, very little was known about Agnes but whenever I asked a question about her, an apparition would appear in the room.
“She was an O’Dwyer from Hibernia House in Doon, and her mother was a seamstress from Belmullet in Co. Mayo. They went up for her on a horse and trap and as Jacko says, it was a long way to go!
“Like many Irish people, I became fascinated with the time period and particularly about the women activists who were involved. There is some familial lore about Agnes and her 12 children, some of which I have substantiated and some not.”
Karen’s journey into her family’s past lead her to learn about other women from the period, particularly artists, who were involved in the suffragette movement and came from different backgrounds.
She continues: “Women such as Kathleen Clarke and The Countess came to the fore. Also, the woman whose head rose up from the past was an Chailleach, a legendary folk figure who has been overseeing all. I ended up writing a lot of songs and poems which I am now delighted to showcase at The Everyman, produced by Aoife Clarke and Directed by Tom Creed. I am thrilled to give voice to these gallant women.”
‘The Women, We Will Rise’ is presented by Karan Casey with The Everyman and Cork Folk Festival and is supported by the Arts Council and Cork City Council.
One of Ireland’s longest running and most treasured folk festivals, Cork Folk Festival, is gearing up for its 44th edition this month, with 40 events taking place across the city featuring over 200 musicians, from Wednesday 27th September to Sunday 1st October.
Headlining this year’s magnificent programme will be a trio of Ireland’s finest musicians, accordion maestro Sharon Shannon, blues and jazz singer Mary Coughlan, and senator and singer Frances Black.
The festival will feature five concerts at Triskel Christchurch; Thursday 28th September with Dingle singer Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Gerry O’Beirne, Donál O’Connor; Friday 29th with Banjo legends Damien O’ Kane and Ron Block (Alison Krauss Band) from California; Saturday features a lunchtime concert with John Spillane & Conal Creedon and in the evening, the legendary UK folk singer Martin Carthy; on Sunday the Festival commemorates the late singer, Diarmuidín Ó Súilleabháin, in a concert entitled The Diarmuidín Songbook, featuring members of his family, Nell Ní Chróinín and singers from Cuil Aodha.
Waterford singer Karan Casey will be presenting The Women We Will Rise at The Everyman, from Wednesday 27th to 30th of September.
Festival favourite Gals at Play with Mary Greene, Brigid O’ Neill, Molly O’Mahony, Neo Glison and Siobhan O’Brien returns this year. The packed programme will include Dublin singer Daoirí Farrell, Boruma Trio from Co Clare with Eileen O Brien, Andrew MacNamara and Geraldine Cotter, the line up from Cork features the Lee Valley String Band, the Four Star Trio, the Céilí Allstars, Greenshine and a celebration of Sliabh Luachra music. Steph Geremia will be launching a new album with Dermot Byrne, Aaron Jones, and Ian Carr. Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly will run a workshop and perform at several concerts.
The list of musicians booked for this year’s festival is growing at it includes songwriters, Cormac O’ Keeffe, John Neville and Martin Leahy, accordionists Ruby Falvey, Diarmuid Ó Meachair and Cork sean nós singers Máire Ní Chéileachair and Danny Maidhcí Ó Suilleabháin.
The festival is also shining a spotlight on local styles of fiddle, concertina, accordion, flute, and song with a series of concerts in An Spailpín Fánach.
And there’s more! A céilí mór with Ger Murphy (accordian) and Ken Cotter (keyboards) takes place at Douglas GAA club 8.30pm Thurs 28th Sept, there’s sean nós dancing, music workshops, trad sessions, Folk on the Coal Quay, a walking tour of Rebel Cork, and Folk fest in the Fort.
Running later this month, the Cork Folk Festival is one of Ireland’s most treasured festivals and will feature over 35 events across multiple days.
The 44th edition of the Cork Folk Festival kicks off this month, and the full lineup has newly been announced.
Featuring 35 events and performances from over 200 musicians, the annual festival takes place across the city from Wednesday 27th September to Sunday 1st October. It’s one of the longest running and most beloved folk festivals in Ireland.
Headlining the festival this year is a trio of Irish musicians: accordion maestro Sharon Shannon, blues and jazz singer Mary Coughlan and senator and singer Frances Black.
The festival feature concerts held at several iconic Cork venues, including Cork Opera House, The Everyman, and Triskel Christchurch. The five performances at Triskel Christchurch include a performance from banjo legends Damien O’Kane and Ron Block as well as a tribute to the late singer Diarmuidín Ó Súilleabháin.
Ron Block and Damien O’Kane.
Waterford singer Karen Casey will be presenting the world premiere of The Women We Will Rise, a theatrical song cycle.
Co-organiser Jim Walsh spoke at the festival launch. “We’re delighted to present this year’s folk festival which is going strong for 44 years, looking forward to the 50th! Enjoy the weekend of music, song, and dance.”
You can find out more about tickets and the festival’s lineup here!