Although in its first year, it is already the largest traditional Irish music festival in the country – and it’s taking place on our doorstep. The Patsy Farrell Festival, which commemorates and celebrates the life and work of the legendary Rathowen singer-songwriter (1929-2002), swings into action on Wednesday August 1 next.
Over a period of eight days (ending Wednesday August 8), this landmark festive week will consist of an incredible 24 sessions held across 11 towns and villages in counties Longford and Westmeath. It will also feature the region’s most well-loved traditional music talent.
This is the tenth anniversary of the death of Patsy Farrell and among his greatest works were the songs he composed for performers such as Brendan Shine and Foster and Allen. Such is the esteem in which he is held today that Foster and Allen will launch the festival at the Rustic Inn, Abbeyshrule on Wednesday August 1 at 9pm. Thanks to the band’s generosity there is no cover charge for this event.
In fact, all sessions on the jam-packed line-up are free of charge and will feature in towns and villages across county Longford namely Granard, Ballinalee, Drumlish, Longford, Clondra, Ballymahon, Abbeyshrule, Ardagh, Legan and Edgeworthstown. For a full list of participating venues, please visit www.patsyfarrellfestival.com.
Alongside showcasing the wealth of musical talent in the counties of Longford and Westmeath, the organising committee also want to encourage people back into the world of music.
“We want people to pick up their instruments and come join us. All are welcome and it doesn’t matter how long it is since you last played. You are welcome,” said Anna Kavanagh, festival secretary.
She continued: “Sessions really lift the spirits. Also music bridges all ages. You can have musicians in their eighties playing alongside children who are younger than ten. Music knows no bounds. It unites young and old people of all class and creed.”
As next year is the highly anticipated year of ‘The Gathering’, the organisers of the Patsy Farrell Festival are hoping that people throughout the two counties will invite their relatives home for the first week in August 2013.
“There will be free entertainment in many pubs throughout the area. We’ll build on this year’s success and deliver an even bigger and better festival next year,” said Anna.
Patsy Farrell served with the army from 1948 until 1967. He then moved to London and there formed the Connolly Folk Group. Around 1970 he began to write songs which captured memories of his youth in Rathowen and Legan.
Brendan Shine had great success with ‘The Three Counties Meet’, ‘Abbeyshrule’, and ‘Christmas Time in Ireland’. Later Foster and Allen recorded ‘Benbulben’ and ‘The Green Willow’. Upon returning to Ireland, Patsy played with such greats as Seamus Shannon and the Tara Travellers. He also played with Foster and Allen.
The Patsy Farrell Festival will afford music lovers the opportunity to savour the talent on offer in Longford and Westmeath. Performers such as Willie Kavanagh, Laura Kavanagh, Sean Marshall, Noel Sweeny, Noel Carbery and Sean Thompson, will take up their instruments and delight their eager audiences.
Another key highlight is the launch of a new CD by Doma Beo in The Bent Elbow, Drumlish, on Sunday August 5. Doma Beo is made up of Liam Doherty (banjo), Laura Doherty (fiddle) and Marie Matthews (flute) – all formerly of Ríl Óg. On the same night, there will be a free festival dance in The Park House Hotel, Edgeworthstown with the Willie Kavanagh Band - no cover charge. All are welcome.
It is also worth noting that despite the high calibre of acts and the quality of the venues, The Patsy Farrell Festival received no funding from any state body. The committee would like to particularly thank Pierce Butler, Abbeyshrule, for his wonderful work on the festival website. For further information about The Patsy Farrell Festival visit www.patsyfarrellfestival.com or call Anna on 085-8895522.