The 18th annual John McKenna Festival takes place in Drumkeerin this week June 6-9th.
The programme of events includes various activities over the weekend. There is an informal early evening of music specially for the residents of Aras Bride. This will include musicians and singers both young and old. Among the residents are some who play Irish music and have played many times in Drumkeerin down through the years.
On Friday night, June 7 we have a concert featuring Eileen O’Brien, Geraldine Cotter and Martin Connolly. Based in Tipperary and Clare this trio of musicians are some of the finest exponents of Irish traditional. Martin Connolly has previously appeared on a number of occasions in Drumkeerin. This is a night not to be missed. The concert commences at 9pm.
Saturday’s activities begin with registration for music workshops at 10am in the community centre Drumkeerin. There are workshops in accordion with Martin Connolly, in fiddle with Eileen O’Brien, tin whistle with Geraldine Cotter, Flute with Catherine McEvoy, Sean Nos Dancing with Ronan Regan, and Sean Nos Singing with Meaiti Jo Sheamuis. The workshops run from 10.30am to 12.30pm and from 1.30pm to 3.30pm.
The annual John McKenna flute and tin whistle competitions take place in the community centre at 3.30pm with flute competitions at under 12, 14, and under 18 and tin whistle competitions at under 10, 12,14, and under 18.
Also on Saturday in Forde’s Inn, we have a singing session hosted by Jim Baimbridge and Jackie Boyce. This is a very enjoyable event and complements the singing sessions which are held in the village throughout the year.
At 6pm we have a session of music held in the cottage at the community centre hosted by Michael O’Brien. Here we have the playing and listening to music in a traditional atmosphere.
On Saturday night there will be a crossroads dance on the ‘square’ in the village at Wynnes Market Bar. This brings us back to a time when the crossroads was the place to meet, to dance and to play music on Summer evenings.
Sunday morning, June 9 we have Aifreann na Feile when we remember John McKenna and all other musicians who have passed to their reward. This is followed by a wreath laying ceremony at the John McKenna monument. At 2pm we have an art workshop for young people. This takes place in the recently developed youth centre which was formerly the court house and is a wonderful addition to village life. At 5pm in Rooney’s Cosy the annual Door Dancing competition takes place with music by Michael and Fiona O’Brien with Louise Devitt. The tradition of door dance evolved because of the need of a timber surface for dancing so a door, taken off its hinges, served the purpose.
The final event of the weekend as appropriate is a session featuring flute players in Davitts Bar at 7pm and will be hosted by Tommy Guihan and Sean Gilrane. These musicians represent the finest in Irish traditional music and are steeped in the Leitrim and North Roscommon style of playing.
We hope that everyone will come out and enjoy the weekend and that there is something to suit all tastes.
There is a music session pub trail throughout the weekend-see brochure. Further enquiries from (086) 8569900.