Massive weekend in Granard as Harp Festival returns

Longford Leader

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Massive weekend in Granard as Harp Festival returns

Members of the Harp Festival Committee Mairead O'Farrell, Bernardine Farrelly, Chairman Jimmy Donoghue, Martin Morris, Rosemary Gaynor, Mary Carleton Reynolds and Mairead Ni Chonghaile.

Next weekend promises to be a very special one for Granard and the whole county with the revival of the historic and much loved Granard Harp Festival.

The Festival programme, running from Friday evening to Sunday, has something for everyone and includes concerts, workshops, talks, a walking tour of the town and a family day.

The official opening of the Festival will take place on Friday evening, August 31 at 7pm in Granard Community Library, originally the Market House, home to the very first harp festival which was held in in the 1780s.

The opening will be attended by some of the original Trustees of the Harp Festival and the evening will move to the beautiful surroundings of St Patrick’s Church at 8pm for a concert showcasing the traditional music talent in the county, and of course the beautiful sound of the harp.

It will also include a special performance of the poem ‘Our Town’, written by local poet Noel Monahan and presented by Sr Maeve Brady and members of the community in Granard. Booking for this event is essential, so contact Granard Library on (043) 6686164 where tickets can be purchased for €5.

Meanwhile, there is a full programme of activities planned for Saturday.

There will be workshops in the harp by Kim Fleming; the fiddle by Conor Ward and Sean Nós singing by Fionnuala Reilly Maxwell, running from 10am to 1pm.

All events are free but it is important to remember that workshops must be pre-booked! Jimmy Donoghue, local historian and one of the leading members of the Harp Festival in the 1980’s will lead a walking tour of the town at 10:30 on Saturday morning which will include a visit to the Granard Country Market at the Buttermarket.

On Saturday afternoon, there will be a busking competition for children and young people with two categories: 8-13 and 14-18 years - already there is lots of interest in this!

Registration for the competition is essential so please contact Granard Library by phone or call into the branch for more details.

Later that day two very interesting talks will take place.

At 2:30 pm, Brendan Fagan will speak on John Dungan - the Granard Harp Festival’s first patron.

The talk is entitled ‘John Dungan: A Man of Wealth and Taste’ and promises to be a very interesting event indeed.

Meanwhile, distinguished local poet Noel Monahan will speak on ‘William Carleton and the Granard connection: a poet’s view of Longford’s literary past’ at 4 pm.

The day’s proceedings will conclude with a concert hosted by the John Dungan branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in the library at 7pm where a host of talented musicians from the three branches of Comhaltas in the county will entertain the masses in the Market House.

On Sunday, Fr Simon Cadam PP will celebrate 11:30am Mass in St Mary’s Church as part of the Festival. To round-off the weekend’s activities, there will be an open air concert and family day at the Motte Visitors Centre from 3-5pm, and again everyone is welcome to come along and join in the fun.

The Motte Centre will be officially opened on the weekend of September 9 with the exciting Knights and Conquests Exhibition.

Speaking to the Leader Jimmy Donoghue who has been associated with many harp festivals said how delighted Granard is to have the Harp Festival taking place once again this year after a break of a number of years.

He also warmly welcomed everyone to Granard for the weekend.

“It is a very important cultural festival for Granard and Longford and it is being revived now under the auspices of Creative Ireland, the national programme for the promotion of culture, creativity and heritage,” he added, before pointing to the fact that it was, and is, a very important event for the town.

Mary Carleton Reynolds, Longford County Coordinator for Creative Ireland paid tribute to the great community spirit there is in Granard and the wealth of talented traditional musicians and harpers in the County.

She also paid special tribute to the John Dungan branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann and the Edgeworthstown and Longford branch of Comhaltas who are the hosts for the Granard Harp Festival.

“Granard is rightly claiming back one of its unique cultural festivals and the town will be the place to be for all traditional music lovers for the weekend,” she concluded.

To book workshop places, register for the busking competition or obtain further information on the Festival, please ring 043-6686164, call into Granard Library or e-mail creativeireland@longfordcoco.ie.