Wexford Trad & Folk Trail 2020
The 2nd Wexford Trad & Folk Trail / Slí Cheoil Cois Sláine takes place Saturday, Sept 5, 2020. Expect the same great mix of top Wexford trad and folk musicians plus family-friendly entertainment.
Here's a report on the 2019 event:
On the last Sunday of August, under a scorching late Summer Sun, the Irish National Heritage Park joined forces with the local branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann to celebrate Heritage Week in some style.
The park, which nestles quietly on 40 acres of magical woodland along the tidal banks of the River Slaney, was the setting for a unique and exciting new event.
Craobh Loch Garman came up with the idea of holding an afternoon of live traditional and folk music along the trail which runs through the park. The format proposed was very simple: the music would reflect the healthy diversity of our musical heritage, make good use of the various ‘Pathways to the Past’ structures along the trail and encourage fruitful collaborations between some of the county’s top trad, folk and contemporary musicians.
And that is exactly how it happened. The hordes streaming into the park were greeted by music at every turn. Those stopping for lunch did not need miss out on the action as Wexford Folk Orchestra entertained, with their usual easy panache, a packed restaurant terrace. Later on in the afternoon, Wexford Sea Shanty Singers delivered a powerful set of lively songs at the same space.
On then to the music trail proper where one was whisked back to the Age of Invasion, back further to the Early Christian era, and beyond that to Pre-Historic Ireland.
On The Spot, three students of music teacher Nora Kavanagh fresh from success at the recent Fleadh in Drogheda, delighted a large audience at the Stone Circle. Those that set up camp here also got to hear the gorgeous worldly sounds of string duo Lilly and Willow Brodie Hayes.
The Early Christian Monastery, one of only two amplified sites on the trail and easily one of the most popular, put the spotlight on some of Wexford’s top contemporary acts – Callum Orr, Basciville, The Man Whom and Justin Cullen and Dan Comerford of Frankenstein Bolts.
The Crannóg offered a welcome respite from the blazing sun as well as hosting some of the best traditional music heard on the day. Uilleann piper Pádraig Sinnott and friends, flying the flag for Fr Murphy Comhaltas in Boolavogue, were one of the acts on the trail. Also playing the same venue were The Wild Turkeys from Ballygarrett who were none the worse for having dashed back from Connemara especially for the gig.
The intimate Stoneage Farmstead provided the perfect setting for Co Wexford Traditional Singers and, later for the eclectic and entertaining Zeff’s Open Mic Session.
Meanwhile back at the Stone Circle fans of Wexford’s top folk act, Corner Boy, were treated to an acoustic performance as singer Michael D’Arcy was joined by Matthew O’Brien on banjo and guitar. They were followed by singer Anne Marie Clancy Corcorcan accompanied by Alice Wickham McIntyre (fiddle) and James McIntyre (guitar).
The musicians of Carrig-on-Bannow took temporary ownership of the Medieval Ringfort with the always brilliant family group, The Revilles, being followed by the young Fleadh Cheoil winning musicians of Danescastle Music Group.
Younger musicians were also very much to the fore at An Fulacht Fiadh with both Cuckoo’s Nest and Ceoltóirí Munna showing that the future of trad music in Wexford is in very good hands. The same might be said for sean nós dance as Ciara O’Grady’s young charges were real show-stoppers.
Back at the restaurant terrace traditional singer Rachel Uí Fhaoláin put some young singers through their paces at a Wexford Music Generation master class in sean nós singing.
At the Grand Finale at the Monastery site some of the day’s favourite acts came together to bring the curtain down on a most enjoyable afternoon. Matt Murphy ensured maximum audience participation when, along with James McIntyre and Michael D'Arcy, he led rousing a cappella singing of The Auld Triangle and Boolavogue.
While most people may have been there for the music and the dancing the normal business of the Heritage Park was continuing unabated. Strolling along the tree lined trail, sweetly scented woodsmoke in the air, one was as likely to meet a pre-historic farmer going about his business as a pair of friendly and jolly Vikings making for their hut by the river.
At the Norman Castle, perched at the highest point of the park, avian enthusiasts came face-to-face with falcons, owls and other birds of prey. Elsewhere a group of eager young lads were preparing for a Viking invasion, no doubt having first perfected their archery skills. Those of a less pugilistic nature were happy to try their hands at Viking coin-stamping.
Craobh Loch Garman’s Senan O’Reilly was thrilled with the success of the event. He said that this was first and foremost a community event, one in which the main aim was to raise the profile of the traditional arts in Wexford. He thanked INHP CEO Maura Bell for hosting the trail and for all her input and advice along the way. He also thanked An Garda Síochána and Wexford Civil Defence for their valuable input. He went on to express his appreciation for the time given to the project by his fellow committee members, not least Michael D’Arcy who took time out from saving the hay to help make the event a reality.
Wexford Trad & Folk Trail was supported by Wexford County Council, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Creative Ireland and INHP.