Detail from a photograph by Knut Utler at the 2011 Joe Heaney Festival.
The annual Joe Heaney Commemorative Festival of Traditional Singing and Music takes place in Carna Village, Conamara over the bank holiday weekend. This annual event celebrates the life and musical achievements of the legendary Carna singer and National Heritage Fellow, who died in Seattle, USA, and is buried in his native parish. This year marks the twenty-sixth celebration of the festival in which sean-nós and traditional singing in any other language are the focus, but where there is also plenty of instrumental music and dancing.
Cilian Fennell (former producer of the Late Late Show) will be guest speaker at the official opening in Áras Shorcha Ní Ghuairim on Friday 4 May at 7.30pm. A series of photographs captured at last year’s festival by established Norwegian music photographer, Knut Utler, will be on display also on the night.
On Saturday 5 May, singing workshops will be given by Saileog Ní Cheannabháin (sean-nós) and Rosie Stewart (English ballads). Local singers Róisín Ní Mhainín and Proinsias Ó hIarnáin will both teach their individual styles of Conamara sean-nós dance in a beginners and advanced class.
A main feature of the festival is the traditional concert which takes place in Carna Bay Hotel on Saturday at 7.30pm. Local performers on the night are Siobhán Éinniú, Briocán Bairéad, PJ, Dónal and Séamus Hernon, Saileog and Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin, and Róisín Ní Mhainín. Visiting musicians include Cormac Begley, Micheál and MacDara Ó Raghallaigh, Danny O’Mahony, Kevin Rowsome and Lorraine Hickey, Mick O’Brien and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, Róisín White, Johnny ‘Ringo’ McDonagh, Rosie Stewart and sisters Peggy, Mary and Kathleen, Sibéal Davitt, Calum MacMillan from Isle of Lewis, Scotland, and traditional folk singer Arnfinn Staurheim from Telemark, Norway.
A special event in this year’s programme is the launch of the brand new album As it Happened from Kerry box player Danny O’Mahony and Meath concertina player Micheál Ó Raghallaigh. This event takes place on Sunday 6 May at 4.30pm. West Cork singer, Nell Ní Chróinín, who is this year’s recipient of ‘Amhránaí na Bliana’ at the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Awards, will perform as a special guest at this event, along with MacDara Ó Raghallaigh (brother of Micheál) on fiddle.
Other events on this year’s programme include a presentation of Traditional Song and Music from Scotland featuring Mairí Smith, Alan MacDonald, Griogair Labhruidh and Calum MacMillan. After a visit to Joe Heaney’s grave on Sunday 6th May, the Children’s Singing Competition takes place. The local Hernon Family will provide music for dancing throughout the weekend, accompanied by the great singer/songwriter Don Stiffe. There will be plenty of informal singing and music sessions throughout the weekend featuring Seán Garvey, Sorcha Ní Chéilleachair, Máire Ní Choilm, Mairéad Ní Oistín, Ciarán Somers, Kevin Abeyta and traditional musicians and dancers from Telemark, Norway.
Published on 3 May 2012