The Tyneside Irish festival has reached its thirty-second milestone making it the longest-running event of this type in Britain.
In our early days we were able to stage performers like Christy Moore, but these have now become mainstream and way beyond our budget. We therefore aim to target a selection of the huge list of talented artists emerging in today’s Ireland. Some go quickly to the big stage e.g. Beoga, our 2016 headliners, joined with Ed Sheeran at Glastonbury. This year we have packaged all our excellent traditional music acts into one ‘Big Trad Weekend’ from 19th to 21st of October. We hope some of you will come to the lot for a mere £30. They are fantastic musicians and most have never been seen here before. Back West, from Galway, were recommended to us by many fans who had seen them in Ireland. They are joined by the fabulous Buttons and Bows band from Sligo, featuring the fiddling brothers Maguire and the legendary Jackie Daly on accordion. Ye Vagabonds, from Carlow, are a sensation on the European folk scene and are already nominated for an RTE award. Kevin Morrin and his Band don’t need to venture from their native Kildare as they play to packed houses there and in nearby Dublin – Kevin’s doing us a favour. If you like good lively authentic Irish singalong nights don’t miss them.
We do have some old friends again this year: our storyteller Pat the Hat from Cork is touring local schools with a special presentation planned for St. Bede’s Primary School in Jarrow. Star of our first night, Frank McCaffrey is jetting in from Mayo to make his 25th appearance at our festival. Fiana Ni Chonnail and Lizzie Afforter from Limerick join us to celebrate National Harp Day. We extend a huge welcome to Carmen Cullen (songs of Delia Murphy), Ron Hutchinson the Belfast-born playwright and Hollywood (USA) scriptwriter and my friend Sally Mulready and the London Irish Pensioners’ Choir. We are delighted to be visiting Sunderland with our Raised on Songs and Stories project and our good friend Dermot Hegarty the great Longford recording star. A welcome return too to Hebburn where Sally Glennon will star at the Iona Club.
Thanks to our workers here at the Cultural Society Paul and Barbara, to Carol for all the social media, to Lynn and the staff at the Irish centre, to our committee and volunteers and to yourself for reading this, telling your friends and coming along. I look forward to meeting you all.