With Cavan already well on in preparing for yet another huge festival of Irish music this summer when the All-Ireland Fleadh will bring upwards of 300,000 visitors to the county town for the second year in succession, the Breffni County’s annual ‘Nyah Festival’ is a great way to whet the appetite, and it starts with a major show this Friday, 11th March featuring singer-songwriting legend Charlie McGettigan and other great artists.
Hosted at the Cavan Co Museum in Ballyjamesduff, Friday’s concert will see Charlie joined by fiddle virtuoso John McBreen and storyteller Eamonn Maguire in what promises to be an unforgettable night’s music and craic — and a great opening for Nyah 2011 and indeed another great year of the tradition in Cavan. (doors at 8pm, show 8.30pm, adm €10, pre-book at 049 854 4070).
Other features of Nyah 2011 (see full programme below) include a Fleadh competitions Prize-winners Concert in Lavey Community Centre on Friday 18th March and a Jig of Life Celebration Concert in honour of accordionist Gerry Gorman of Legga, in the Brewery Bar, Arva, on Friday 1st April, featuring accordion legend Bobby Gardiner from Clare and other well-known guests.
For the month of March the Breffni County will immerse itself in the music and culture and rejoice in being Irish. That’s the message from Cavan’s Nyah committee, headed by Martin Donohoe. But trad enthusiast Martin has also been conscious of leaner times when putting together this year’s programme, so apart from the workshops, only a handful of events have a cover charge, with the majority being free.
“The word ‘Nyah’ refers to the very expression of the tradition: to the soul and feeling that makes it so unique,” explains Martin. “It’s about the lift the music can give to the hardest heart. And what better time than the present to let the hair down and enjoy a collective ‘lift’ from all the doom, gloom and depression?”
There’ll be no shortage of top musicians, dancers and singers in seisiún at the eight Nyah Féile Ealaíon Chontae an Chabhán 2011, he assures us.
The likes of singer-songwriter Charlie McGettigan violin master John McBreen and box-player Bobby Gardiner are just the tip of the iceberg, as a host of top performers will not only showcase their talents, but share them in the extensive workshop teaching sessions that have been arranged with the Cavan Town Comhaltas Branch.
At 9.30pm the Brewery Bar, Arva has a session around the fire with Gerry, Michael and friends; adm free,
Also featured in this concert are Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann & Ulster Fleadh Winners 2010 from the Cavan Town Comhaltas Branch: Seamus Tierney (Flute, Tin Whistle), Orla Finnegan (Piano Accordion), Gareth Tierney (Piano Accordion), Deirdre O'Reilly (Piano Accordion), Niamh Geoghegan (Concertina, Lilting), Kavan Donohoe (Harp), Rebecca Tully (Accompaniment), Aoife Murray (Singing), Thomas Hughes (Singing), Aine McDermott (Lilting) and Savannah Donohoe (Flute).
Other guests include Aoife and Katie Flynn (Accordion, Banjo), Eimer O’Reilly (Fiddle), Seamus Fay (Cavan Lilter), Lavey Set Dancers, Pat Tierney (Flute, Tin Whistle), Fintan McManus (Bouzouki), Peter Kelly and Paddy Galligan (Accordion, Flute), Felix McQuaid (Banjo), Cavan Town Set Dancers, and Cavan Town CCE Branch Youth Group Polka Band.
Adm is only €6, children free. The Concert is presented by Cavan Town Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and Nyah Festival 2011.
Special guest speaker is Aidan O'Hara, RTÉ broadcaster and writer; MC Martin Donohoe (Accordion, Shannonside Northern Sound Radio),
Adm €5, starts at 9.30pm sharp, limited seating, tickets (first-come, first-served, so get yours early) from Multisound Cavan and Rosie, The Brewery Bar, Arva.
The Nyah Arts Festival Programme 2011 is subsidised by the Cavan Co Council Arts Office, McQuaid’s Opticians, Comhaltas, Wrangler, Donal Keogan (Imperial Lounge, Cavan), Cavan Co Museum, Farnham Arms Hotel, Sean Tarpey, Shannonside Northern Sound Radio and Fáilte Ireland. The Nyah gives grateful thanks for this support and acknowledges all those others who have provided generous backing over the years.
More info can be had from moc.liamg@evilcisumnavac; listen for festival news on the ‘Wind that Blows’ radio show on Shannonside Northern Sound (www.shannonside.ie). This two-hour weekly Irish traditional/folk radio show, every Saturday from 6pm to 8pm, is part of the Nyah, Co Cavan arts group’s work in keeping music live and giving all access to the culture.