Temple Bar, in the heart of Dublin City. You might think of it for its lively scene of pubs and drink. You could know it for its art galleries and cultural events. How about the weekend markets with books, fashion, and food? There’s history, too, from Vikings to churches. Over the last dozen years, Temple Bar has also seen the making of one of Ireland’s largest and most respected festivals of traditional music. It is the home of Temple Bar TradFest.
Update: Temple Bar TradFest continues to flourish, and have expanded to hosting a year round podcast as well as the on the ground festivities in January. Here’s a look at a more recent year of TradFest, and a story abut what to explore in Temple Bar beyond the well known tourist trail
This year, the festival takes place from 25 to 29 January. There will be headline concerts featuring top Irish and International musicians, Front Row Sessions where you can experience the music of some of trad music’s greats in intimate surroundings, a strand of activities parents and children can enjoy together, workshops on the music business and on songwriting within the tradition, TradFringe events including films and art exhibits, and many sessions in Temple Bar’s varied pubs.
World renown piper and composer Paddy Keenan, former member of The Bothy Band, will bring new and old favorite tunes on the uilleann pipes to a concert at City Hall
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral will be the location of an evening shared by up and coming Acadian band Vishten from Prince Edward Island in Atlantic Canada and Crannua, a recently formed ensemble joining together the talents of guitarist John Doyle, harpist and singer Moya Brennan, musical brothers Cormac and Eamon deBarra, and American singer and songwriter Ashley Davis
The Afro Celt Sound System brings their always high energy and soulful meeting of Celtic and African sounds to the festival, perhaps accompanied, as they often are, with guests from those and other traditions
Saint Werburgh’s Church will host, on separate evenings, two of the most interesting duos working in trad music today. Dermot and Flo bring harp, piano, vocal, and fiddle (Flo) and accordion (Dermot) together in music that celebrates Flo’s background in France as the granddaughter of a gypsy jazz musician and Dermot’s explorations of many world musics anchored in the sounds of his native Donegal. Nollaig Casey and Arty McGlynn, playing fiddle and guitar respectively, have forged separate and joint careers which have set them at the creative and cutting edge of traditional music for several decades.
There’s more: box player Sharon Shannon, who explores the world with her music, will play several Front Row Session concerts. Iconic band Stockton’s Wing will also play the pubs of Temple Bar. Iarla O Lionaird, one of the most respected singers in world music as well as Irish trad, will give a concert and will teach a master class in songwriting. Na Mooneys, family band of top Donegal musicians including Altan’s Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh, will be there, as will Grammy nominated Americana musician Sarah Jarosz and Brit folk rock legends Fairport Convention.
That’s just a taste of what will be going on at Temple Bar TradFest this year. Not making it this year? This musical celebration takes place in the heart of Dublin City at the end of each January. Why not put it on your calendar for next season? Meanwhile, give a listen to to the music of the artists mentioned above.
Photographs by Steve Edge (Merchant’s Arch) and Kerry Dexter (musicians John Doyle and Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh). Thank you for respecting copyright.
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