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Wexford Traditional Singers' Weekend

TRAD SINGERS FLYER

Wexford Trad Singers' Club quietly goes about its business. This is the one occasion in the year when, like the Turner watercolours in the National Gallery, they take centre stage. The mini-festival attracts some of the finest traditional singers (singing in English and Irish) from across the island of Ireland. This is living heritage in action!

 

When John O’Byrne and Phil Berry decided, over a pint and a song, to bring together singers from across the land for a low-key singing weekend little did they suspect that their venture would endure as it has. This weekend, and 27 years later, the annual Wexford Traditional Singers Weekend will bring together some of the genre’s best-loved singers. The main action takes place in two venues: Cushen’s Pub, Tagoat (9pm, Fri and 2.30pm Sat) and Hotel Rosslare (9pm, Sat and 12noon, Sun). There is no charge and anyone with even half a grá for traditional or folk singing is encouraged to attend.

They sing songs in English and Irish, songs from the old days and songs written last week. You will hear about everything from the Spanish Armada to Napoleon, songs bemoaning the taking of the King’s shilling, songs about love won and lost, songs of exile and murder ballads. And, of course, we never tire of hearing of perfidious Albion. This year one may expect to hear songs about Brexit and a megalomaniac President!

Many of those who travel to the festival are repeat visitors. Last year’s Gradam Ceoil winner Rita Gallagher makes the long trip from Donegal. Other ‘regulars’ travelling from the north of the country are Fermanagh’s Rosie Stewart, Tommy Dunn from Derry, Antrim singer Mairéad Wall and the daughters of the late Geordie Hanna, Áilish and Rosaleen. The Deise’s Johnny ‘The Miller’ Power will be there as will Tony Malone from Carlow. Worthy of special mention is thestory-telling colossus that was the late Mick Quinn of Mullaghbawn. Travelling from England for the weekend is Seamus Brogan, son of the great Enniscorthy singer Mary Brogan. A festival veteran with an even longer journey to travel is Alberta Latham of Indianapolis.

All of the sessions are very relaxed and informal with a fear an tí appointed to keep order. The centre-piece of the weekend is the Saturday night gathering at Hotel Rosslare when, having gorged themselves on the traditional festival feast of bacon, spuds and cabbage, the singers sit back and wait their turn. What follows is about as far away from the often sanitised fare which is championed by certain reality tv shows. With no electronic amplification and no accompaniment each singer will use the medium of song to tell a story, one worth hearing. And those assembled will pay heed, will hang on every word. And that is how it will go, story after story.

singing session

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Comhaltas

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Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is the largest group involved in the preservation and promotion of Irish traditional music. We’re a non-profit cultural movement with hundreds of local branches around the world, and as you can read in our history we’ve been working for the cause of Irish music since the middle of the last century (1951 to be precise). Our efforts continue with increasing zeal as the movement launches itself into the 21st century.

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