The Ulster Fleadh 2012 comes to Dungiven July 22-29, featuring traditional song, dance, family events and more. And this year, for the first time, a Scottish Gaelic band, Siar, from Islay on the Western Isles of Scotland, will headline the opening concert.
This is in keeping with the theme of this year's festival, which is derived from the ancient folk tale of the marriage of Finvola and her 24 brothers to the O'Cathains of the Roe Valley to the sons and daughters of the MacDonnells, lords of the Isles of Islay.
Siar are Ellen McGregor, Ciara McTaggart and Clare Jordon. The trio will be playing a multitude of instruments including Scottish harp, keyboard, accordion, tin whistle, flute and aiddle. Jordon, who will be singing in Scottish Gaelic, said that they are 'honoured to be invited to perform at the Ulster Fleadh 2012'.
The Ulster Fleadh is the largest traditional music festival in Ireland in 2012, with up to 25,000 spectators expected. An exclusive concert will also see a selection of Ireland’s finest folk singers and musicians perform on Thursday, July 26 at St Canice’s Hall on Main Street. The stellar lineup includes Buille, John Spillane and Si Van.
The group Buille – in Gaelic, 'beat' – was formed in 2004 by Armagh brothers Niall and Caoimhin Vallely performing a body of new tunes written in a traditional style with contemporary arrangements. Niall has been widely acclaimed as one of Ireland's greatest concertina players, and his fusion of celtic and contemporary influence makes up the bands trademark progressive style.
Caoimhin, meanwhile, first came to prominence as a fiddle player with the Cork band North Cregg. In recent years he has also emerged as one of the most interesting piano players in the trad scene through his work with Karen Casey and Brian Finnegan of Flook.
They are joined on stage by Sean og Graham of Beoga on guitar with Brian Morrissey on bodhran and banjo. Buille released their first album in 2005 to great critical acclaim, with the Irish Times claiming 'Buille is as fresh a breath that’s blown through traditional (and roots) circles in a long, long time'.
The group has toured extensively all over the globe. Now returned they are working on a new project, the soon to be released album Buille 2 featuring more large scale compositions and arrangements, whilst utilising a much bigger ensemble.
John Spillane is one of Ireland’s most accomplished singer-songwriters and has wowed audiences across Ireland and Europe with his live shows. Singing his self-penned folk songs in a fine Cork brogue, he is also one of Ireland's most covered songwriters, having lent his songs to albums for Christy Moore, Sharon Shannon, Cathy Ryan and Sean Keane.
Audiences will get to preview the premiere performance of the newly formed group Si Van and their haunting new set of folk and traditional songs in three-part harmony. This new group is composed of local singer Mary Dillon (formerly of popular traditional group Deanta) with Niamh Parsons and Tiona McSherry.
Niamh Parsons is synonymous with Irish traditional singing, having once sang with the great band Arcady, and has spent several years touring internationally and recording as a solo artist. Tiona McSherry comes from a family immersed in the traditional scene, and previously fronted the cross-over band Tamalin as a lead vocalist and flute player.
The St Canice’s Concert is hosted by BBC Radio Ulster presenter Lynette Fay, presenter of the Irish language programme, Blas. A spokesperson for the Ulster Fleadh said that they 'eagerly await' the performance of Buille, John Spillane and Si Van at this years’ Fleadh.
Tickets for the main concert, and all other Ulster Fleadh events, are now available via at the Ulster Fleadh website.