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Celtic Canadians Take in Temple Bar TradFest

Dubliners have discovered an ingenious way to banish the January blues with none other than a festival of knee slappin’ foot tappin’ fun at the Temple Bar TradFest (22 – 27 January). A jam-packed six-day programme promises over 200 free events and performances by some of the best known faces (and voices) in traditional music.

A Taste of Celtic Colors, one of the highlights of the 2013 lineup, is a celebration of the traditional music of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia!

Hosting the Tradfest is Dublin city’s cultural quarter, creative hub, and nightlife hotspot – Temple Bar. Any Dubliner (or tourist) worth their salt knows that if you want a good time, you go to Temple Bar. The cobbled streets lined with galleries, indie theaters and throbbing pubs are always thronged with visitors and long-lunching locals.

On Thursday, January 24, the TradFest goes all canuck-style as part of The Gathering 2013 with the traditional music of Cape Breton played by some of Nova Scotia’s top trad musicians. “The Celtic Colours International Festival” celebrates culture whilst sharing it with other Celtic traditions from around the world. The origins of Cape Breton’s traditional music stem from the Scottish and Irish immigrants who came to Canada more than 200 years ago and award winning musician Mary Jane Lamond and Creignish native Wendy MacIsaac and their band reinvigorate these long-lasting traditions with mesmerizing Gaelic songs, Cape Breton fiddle at its finest, piano, dance, and powerful rhythms.

Also in the event’s lineup is Kimberley Fraser, a multi-talented musician from Sydney Mines. An accomplished fiddle/piano player and exceptional dancer in the traditional Cape Breton style she’s set to perform alongside Cyril MacPhee who brings a wealth of songs and his engaging voice to the stage. The full package is a Cape Breton ceilidh that reflects the sharing, the variety and the joy that is the Celtic Colours Festival.

The Celtic Colours International Festival is just one of the many events lined up to treat fans of trad music in Dublin next week. Combining cozy pub sessions with outdoor concerts, street performers with pipe bands, and film screenings with storytelling, the Temple Bar TradFest 2013 promises an Irish music and culture extravaganza. Two-time winner of the Best Traditional Music Festival award, TradFest is “a window for Irish culture” according to Moya Brennan of Clannad.

This year’s line up sees a mixture of prominent musicians such as Sharon Shannon and Brian Conway along with lesser known acts getting the opportunity to share their music at the IMRO Showcase. There will even be a European Music night to celebrate Ireland’s EU presidency in 2013.

A musical Gathering

To mark the start of The Gathering 2013, TradFest will bring together some of the most progressive and influential traditional groups of the past fifteen years. The line up for this once-off musical celebration will include Karen Kasey, Donal O’ Connor, John Spillane, John Mc Sherry, Lumiere, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh and Donogh Hennessy. Performing both separately and together this will be a rare treat for trad fans.

Listen to the masters

If you aren’t content to simply let the music waft over you then book yourself into a masterclass where pros like John Spillane and Charlie Lennon will impart the secrets of musical success. The Music Trail offers a roadmap through free festival performances. Bring your own instrument and keep an eye out for the open sessions. If you can carry a tune, drop into the Singers Club and add your voice.


The support acts throughout the festival will undoubtedly be the venues, some of which are centuries old and add a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to an evening. Ones to watch are Dublin’s neoclassical 18th century City Hall hosting an intimate recital with fiddler Brian Conway. Sharon Shannon celebrates her 21st anniversary in St Patrick’s Cathedral; the hauntingly beautiful Christ Church Cathedral will echo with the voice of songstress Maura O’Connell, while the historic St Werburgh Church, founded in 1178, opens it doors for The West Ocean String Quartet.

Nail the lingo

To look and sound like you belong, pick up one or two phrases that will define you as an experienced hand. The musician in this video assures us that nobody calls trad music ‘folk’ or ‘Irish’ music – just trad will do.

And while Tradfest dances on around you, don’t forget you’re in the city’s cultural hub. Keep an eye out for the open air markets; the Irish Film Institute, the National Photographic Archive and The Gallery of Photography.

And of course the many many shops (Siopaella recycles pre-loved clothing while supporting Irish design), restaurants (Gallagher’s Boxty House are running cooking classes), theaters (you’ll find the New Theater in the back of The Connolly Bookshop), pubs (The Temple Bar is a natural choice) and cafes (you can’t miss Café Irie’s bright pink facade) where you can rest those toes after a long day of tapping.

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