Posted by: mdmusingsie | January 29, 2016

Trad Fest 2016

Yes, it’s that time of year. A time where the gloomy weather, seemingly endless rain, and short days are enough to drive even the most cheerful of disposition to despair. Relatives visiting for the holidays have (finally, you might say) gone home. But you don’t have to wait for the crocus, snowdrops, and daffodils to poke their heads out to bring some brightness into winter days, it’s Temple Bar Trad Fest time!

I love this festival, but that probably comes as no surprise because I love traditional Irish music. It touches something deep in my soul and can brighten even the most dark, rain sodden, stress ridden day.

There is everything from up and coming bands to the veterans with names big and small. Who knows, the best gig could be the small one from someone you hadn’t heard before. I did try to do a little of both, but unfortunately, one of the gigs was cancelled.

My first concert featured Michelle Mulcahy – a multi-instrumentalist who excels at the harp. I first saw her in 2012 at Tunes in the Church in Galway, and I still love listening to her CD. The venue was Dublin City Hall, which I had walked past many times but had never gone inside. A rotunda with its Grecian columns, marble and mosaic floor, and assorted frieze paintings was the perfect place for a concert, as the acoustics are excellent.

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I would venture that in the neighborhood of a hundred people attended this lunchtime concert, and I don’t think anyone left disappointed. Michelle has fluidity on the harp which, as a beginner harpist, I envy. She played everything from jigs, reels, hornpipes, and marches to slow airs; many of which were traditional pieces but at least one was her own composition born out of a visit to study harp traditions in Burma.

Accomplished on the concertina as well, she played several tunes on that instrument including one where she was accompanied by her equally talented sister Louise on the flute. Instead of being competitive, Michelle said that she really enjoys playing music with her sister.

I could have attended at least 3 performances on Thursday night – the evening was loaded with gigs. I wish they could have been spread out more, either throughout the day or on different nights, but I had to choose and I chose Ré.

Maybe I should have gone with something new, but sometimes tried and true is right for the day, and I don’t like to miss an opportunity to see my favorite musicians.


Ré – Liam ó Maonlaí, Eithne Ní Chatháin, Maitiú Ó Casaide, Cormac Begley, Peter O Toole,

Most people know Liam O’Maonlai as a rock and roller with Hothouse Flowers (who amazingly have been together 30 years this year), but he has always had a deep love for Irish traditional music. He and Peter O’Toole have been playing together since their teens and are a natural fit. Add to that the next generation – Eithne Ní Chatháin, Cormac Begley and Maitiú Ó Casaide, and you have a combination of experience and youth that generates wide appeal.

The quintet toured the world with the music and dance show Rian, so it was natural that they would form a bond. They released a CD in December, 2014 (I can’t believe it’s been over a year already) which would make a wonderful addition to anyone’s Irish music collection.


Ré Band – St. Michan’s Church – Temple Bar Trad Fest

Ré also did a church tour in 2015, organized by Cormac Begley who is known for his Tunes in the Church series (coming to Dublin this summer!). So it was no surprise that their Temple Bar Trad performance was in a church – St. Michan’s. Not a very large church nor very ornate, St. Michan’s does have a crypt which is always a fascinating tourist attraction (unfortunately it is closed in the evening so I’ll just have to go back to explore another time). Despite being a smaller church, they had no trouble filling the seats as well as the folding chairs that been added to accommodate the crowd of 200+ attendees.

If you need something bright to bring you out of the winter gloom, definitely check out Temple Bar Trad Fest.

(Apologies for the poor quality of the photos – I only had phone cam with me – the photos look much better on the phone screen).

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