Thanks to:

Tony & Mary Coyne Tony & Mary Coyne
Cllr. Paddy Kilduff Cllr. Paddy Kilduff

South Roscommon Singers Festival 2013

... a wondrous cornucopia of delights.

Click here for a one page list of events to print

Friday 25th Oct. 2013

2.30pm: Song Saunter & Talk at Gailey Castle

Situated on the western shore of Lough Ree, fourteenth century Gailey Castle was the eastern outpost of the ÓCeallaigh (O'Kelly) Clan territory of Ui Maine. It was the site of the first ever recorded ‘Irish music festival’, which was hosted by William ‘Boy’ O'Kelly in 1351.

(Assembly: 2pm sharp at Railway Crossing, Knockcroghery).

4.00pm: The Gathering Session

(Venue: Coffey’s of Lecarrow)

7.30pm: Welcoming Reception

(Venue: Murray’s Lounge)

8.00pm − Song Talk:

‘Atlantic Crossing’

Melissa Weaver Dunning and Betsy O'Malley will discuss the Crossing of Songs from Ireland to America - with a few tunes tossed in.

(Venue: Murray’s Lounge)

9.30pm: Singing Session

Theme: Atlantic Crossings.

(Venue: Murray's Lounge)

Saturday 26th Oct. 2013

10.45am: ‘Public Interview’

Annie McNulty Award recipient 2013, Nora Butler in conversation with Paddy Ryan (Shannonside Radio).

(Venue: Murray’s Lounge)

12 noon: ‘The Blue Ridge Railroad − The Irish Connection’

Clann Mhór is a small non-profit research organization that is studying the history of the Blue Ridge Railroad in Central Virginia, U.S.A. Kevin Donleavy, a researcher on the project, talks us through the deep ravines, stone culverts and dark tunnels of this legendary mountain railroad, the Irish who worked there and the great music and song legacy they left behind them.

(Venue: Murray’s Lounge)

2.00pm − Song Talk:

‘Frank Harte in America’

Betsy O'Malley, Melissa Weaver Dunning and Connie McKenna recall some memories and songs of the late Frank Harte from the many summers spent with him at Elkins College in West Virginia.

(Venue: Murray’s Lounge)

2.00pm − 6.00pm: Singing Session

Informal Session of singing, storytelling, lies and legend with festival guests, patrons, strangers and wayfarers.

(Venue: Ned’s Bar)

8.00pm The Roscommon People sponsored

Annie McNulty Award Presentation Concert

Roscommon Footsteps,
Jim Bainbridge, Michael Gordon,
Betsy O'Malley, Melissa Weaver Dunning, Connie McKenna,

Guest of Honour:

Nora Butler

Venue: The Widow Pat’s − Doors open 7.30pm - Adm: €10

(Tickets available in advance or at the door).

10.30pm: The Late Sessions:

(Venues: The Widow Pat's & Murray's Lounge).

(Informal sessions encouraged throughout weekend provided they don't interfere with festival programme.)

Sunday 27th Oct. 2013

12 Noon − Song Talk:

‘American Labour Songs − The Irish Heritage’

Melissa Weaver Dunning and Connie McKenna present American Labor and work songs, while remembering legendary Irish born activists, Mother Jones and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.

(Venue: Murray’s Lounge)

2.00pm − Song Talk:

‘Labour Songs from Ireland and Britain’

Jim Bainbridge and George Henderson will lead a session and discussion on Labour and work songs from Ireland and Britain. No doubt Larkin and Connolly will get a mention as this is the Centenary Year of the Dublin City 1913 Lock−Out.

(Venue: Murray’s Lounge).

3.00pm: The Offaly Session

All are welcome to join the ‘Ferbane Bawlers’ Singers Circles with M.C. Liam Lally and Festival Guests.

(Venue: The Clay Pipe Lounge).

7.00pm − Song Talk:

‘From Cottage to Factory’

Melissa Weaver Dunning presents songs and tales of spinning, weaving and other trades from before and after the Industrial Revolution − 18th and 19th century.

(Venue: Murray’s Lounge)

8.30pm: ‘Comic Songs & Storytelling’

Michael Gordon, Joe Corscadden and Johnny Johnston lead a session of comic songs, parodies and stories. − Always a memorable finale to Ireland's Premier Singers Festival!

(Venue: Murray’s Lounge)

Monday 28th Oct. 2013

12 Noon: A Parting Song & Farewell

Discussion and reflection on the weekend's events with a parting song or two (plus barbecue − weather permitting).

(Venue: Murray’s Bar)

*All events − admission free except where stated.

2013 Festival Guests:

Betsy O'Malley

Betsy O'Malley from New Jersey discovered folk music and song during her college years in New York. She taught herself Tenor Banjo and Tin Whistle after being inspired during a 6 month bike odyssey in Ireland in 1982. After returning to N.J. she performed Celtic and Irish repertoire with The Borderland Band and some local Contra Dance bands. She moved to Virginia in 1990 where she joined two dance bands playing for monthly Ceilidhs for 15 years. Currently she sings and performs with The Irish Inn Mates and facilitates the bi-monthly meetings of a very dedicated group of singers − the Frank Harte Memorial Singers' Circle.

Melissa Weaver Dunning

Melissa Weaver Dunning is one of the founding members of the Frank Harte Memorial Singers' Circle and is a treasure of great old songs. She was a protégé to both Norman Kennedy, while living in Vermont, and to Frank Harte, having spent many summers with him at Elkins. She's an avid weaver, spinner, and knitter (professionally!) and has an amazing repertoire of ‘weaving’ songs, and more, from both sides of the Atlantic and a wonderful singing voice too.

Connie McKenna

Connie McKenna also had many song classes with Frank Harte at Elkins and has been singing Irish and other traditional ballads most of her life. She was the vocalist with a trio Ceoltoirí, who were a fine group recording and performing around Virginia and Maryland some years ago. She too has an amazing repertoire of songs from both sides of the Atlantic.

Kevin Donleavy is an historian and musicologist who, for 15years, interviewing and playing with Old-Time musicians from North Carolina and Virginia, the result of which is a fascinating book under the title, ‘Strings of Life − Conversations with Old Time Musicians’, which documents the lives of ordinary people making exceptional music. Kevin is currently working on the Clann Mhór project, which he will discuss with us this weekend. He also presents a traditional music program, ‘Atlantic Weekly Part II’, on WTJU Charlottesville in Central Virginia.

Jim Bainbridge, from Durham, England, has been to Knockcroghery several times in the past and is a most interesting and versatile singer/musician. Also a writer for The Living Tradition music magazine, he has a vast knowledge of the British and Irish folk music scene.

Michael Gordon, from Bray, Co. Wicklow, is an hilariously funny singer/songwriter who has also been to Knockcroghery on many occasions. His deadpan delivery of classic parodies is legendary among the singers circle fraternity.

Joe Corscadden, from the Sligo Singers Circle, is another hilariously funny singer/songwriter of current topical issues, who has his own unique style of delivery. If you haven't heard him before you are in for a real treat.

George Henderson, originally from Newcastle, England and now living in Bray, is a font of knowledge on the various ballad traditions of the English speaking world and a consummate performer of those classic ballads.

Roscommon Footsteps: South Roscommon Singers Circle, Club Damhsa Sean Nó Ballinasloe and friends came together as ‘Roscommon Footsteps’ earlier this year to perform at the Festival of Europe in Fontainebleau outside Paris, France. They will be performing at our concert on Saturday night.

Guest of Honour:

Nora Butler

Nora Butler, a native of Toomevara, Co. Tipperary, learned most of her songs from her late father Ned Butler. While in National School a travelling talent contest arrived in town and Nora won first prize. The taste of success never left her and in 1964 she took part in her first Fleadh Cheoil in Roscrea and won. She became All-Ireland Champion U−18 in ‘66 in Boyle and in ‘67 in Enniscorthy. She also holds three senior All-Ireland titles from ‘69 to ‘71, along with many County titles. In the 1970's she won ‘Fleadh Cheoil an Radio’ & ‘Search for a Balladeer.’ She toured the U.S. in ‘73 along with the late Paddy O'Brien. Tours of Australia, New Zealand, U.S., Canada, Libya, England and Ireland followed. Nora has a natural ability to phrase &ornament her singing which gives her an enviable, individual quality, − a voice that has thrilled audiences worldwide.

Sth. Roscommon Singers Festival is supported by:


The 11th South Roscommon Singers Festival

Incorporating the Annie McNulty Award

Lecarrow & Knockcroghery, Co. Roscommon, Ireland

25th to 28th October 2013

Guest of Honour

Nora Butler