A Year of Traditional Irish Music in Clare

A Music Festival Every Month

For those in search of an authentic Irish music experience, County Clare hits the high note. In addition to impromptu session in pubs across the county, Clare hosts well over a dozen music festivals each year… no matter what month you visit, there is a festival on the calendar.

Ireland’s Banner County kicks off it’s traditional music season with the 16th annual Russell Memorial Weekend in Doolin on the 26th of February. And that’s just the first note in a melody of festivals that continues throughout the year and criss-crosses the county from Feakle to Doonbeg, from Kilfenora to Kilkishen.

Generations of Vibrant Music

There is really only one place to come for traditional Irish music is the message coming from County Clare and some of her most talented native sons. Clare is often referenced as the heart and soul of Irish music, and Feakle fiddler extraordinaire Martin Hayes is no exception. Hayes says, “In the late 1940’s when the revival of Irish music was in its infancy, we were fortunate in Clare to already have a very rich culture of music. Our music is vibrant and strong now because the people of the county over many years have cherished our musicians like no other county. This pride and self-assurance has led to the incredible abundance and quality of music that is so vividly on display each year at the myriad festivals throughout Clare, as well as on stages throughout the world where many Clare musicians perform.”

This rich musical heritage can be encountered in almost any pub at any crossroads where fine musicians break into a seisiún at the drop of a hat. However, for a visitor to the county seeking a guaranteed Irish musical treasure trove, they just need to head for any of the many festivals held in Clare.

The most well-known is probably the renowned Willie Clancy Summer School that has taken place every July in Miltown Malbay for the last 38 years. The event is attended by young and old from the four corners of the globe who come to learn to play traditional instruments and join in the demonstration of their newly honed skills in daily sessions. There are many lesser known, but no less enjoyable to attend, festivals from January to the depths of winter.

Ennis born Kieran Hanrahan of Stockton’s Wing sings the praises of his native county’s musical heritage and has huge enthusiasm for the future, “The very best of traditional music can be heard in Clare and the standard of young musicians here is so high that the future of this incredible legacy is assured. The wealth of talent that can be seen in the festivals in Clare is extraordinary, not to mention that found at performance venues like Cois na hAbhana and Glór and teach ceol and parish halls all over the county .”

The tune is a simple one to follow – when it’s traditional music you seek head west for the best to the Banner County.

More information on events or activities in County Clare is available on the Clare Tourism Forum website www.clare.ie

Traditional Music Festivals in County Clare in 2010

  • Winter Music Weekend – Sixmilebridge – 15th-17th January
  • Russell Memorial Weekend – Doolin – 26th- 28th February
  • Corofin Trad Festival 1st -7th March
  • Kilfenora Music Weekend – 16th-18th April
  • PJ Hayes Memorial Weekend – Feakle – 1st-3rd May
  • Fleadh Nua Festival – Ennis 23rd- 31st May
  • County Fleadh Ennis – Ennis 23rd – 31st May
  • Fleadh – Kilfenora – 17th-19th June
  • Willie Clancy Summer School – Miltown Malbay – 3rd-11th July
  • Feakle International Traditional Music Festival – 4th- 10th August
  • Dan Furey Weekend – Labasheeda – 3rd-5th September
  • Ellen Galvin Traditional Music Weekend – Kilrush – 3rd – 5th September
  • Tulla Traditional Music Festival – 10th-12th September
  • Clare Shout Fleadh – Kilkishen – 17th-19th September
  • Seisiun na hEireann – Quinn – 25th-27th September
  • Willie Keane Memorial – Doonbey – 22nd – 25th October
  • Ennis Trad Festival – 11th – 15th November

Clare Tourism Forum contributed to this post.

Author: Corey

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  1. Boy, this has made me hungry to get back to Clare! I visited in the early ’90s, spending time in Doolin, enjoying the music and the people.

    I met Miko Russell in the local store and he asked for a drive back to his home. Didn’t have a clue who he was but he seemed like a kindly old guy so we took him there, got invited in for tea and then promptly got sold a couple of booklets and tapes of his music. When we got back to our B & B our landlady was scandalized to learn that Miko had bummed a ride. She thought he was a disgrace and was giving the village a bad name!

    Only afterwards as we chatted with folks at O’Connors Pub did we discover what a musical legend he was. I still have those tapes and booklets. As great as they are, the memory of our little visit with Miko and our landlady’s indignation are even greater.

    We also have a delightful memory from an afternoon spend in an Ennis pub. Which one I haven’t a clue. But at some point a very young girl, perhaps around 6 years old, arrived back from an Irish Dance class. I think her Mom worked in the pub. This little girl was clearly well known to many of the patrons who encouraged her to show them the dance steps she learned that day. Up she got, standing as tall and straight as her little body allowed, and to the music made by hand clapping and foot stomping she put on a great little show. Her bow at the end and the ear-to-ear grin were such a delight to see.

    Oh gee, you really have gotten me going! Thanks – (I think)!!

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  2. I first met Miko June 1979 on a very rainy windswept night at O’Connor’s after his session.
    My wife from Doolin asked Miko if he would like a lift home.
    And what to my surprise? I was motoring up the Donagore Castle Hill road with Miko in the front playing his Tin Whistle, a moment I will always cherish.

    My first of many trips to Doolin.
    Must have been the Music as the following Feb. our first child P.J. arrived.

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