When I first created this blog, I decided that in addition to interviewing writers, musicians, actors, painters and other artists focused on Irish themes, that I would also report on Irish Festivals. I have discovered that Celtic festivals in the U.S. are usually billed as “Irish Festivals” and they are quite large. The two biggest Irish Festivals in America (and the “World”) are held in: Dubin Ohio and Milwaukee.
On the other hand, festivals in Ireland are never called Irish Festivals – in the same way that you should never look for an “Irish Pub” when in Ireland – you just go to a Pub. Music festivals in Ireland are a staple diet of the Spring and Summer season. Some of you will no doubt have heard of the more well-known ones such as: Slane Castle, Body & Soul, the Electric Picnic (where my sister and brother-in-law have performed for the past several years), Stendhal in Derry, the All Ireland Fleadh Ceoil, among others.
My very first festival/concert was as a teenager in 1978. I went to see the late, great blues musician Rory Gallagher, who used to play yearly in Macroom, Co. Cork. Weekend festivals in Ireland draw crowds of several thousand, which is small compared to the 100,000 plus, which both Dublin, Ohio and Milwaukee can attract over the course of a weekend. Of course, big venues such as the O3 arena, or Croak Park in Dublin will attract crowds of more than 50,000 for a concert (I was one of 65,000 attending the Rolling Stones in Croak Park back in May when they kicked off their European “No Filter” tour.)
This weekend, I will be signing my books at the Buffalo Irish Festival and by all accounts, there is a huge Irish contingent up there going back many generations. Right after Buffalo, I leave for Ireland and the day I land, I will be headed down to Laois to attend the Electric Picnic festival. It’s a mad weekend from what I have been told. You can find out yourselves by following vicariously through me, as I will report on both events as soon as I have completed my research and the head clears – from all the travel, don’t you know.
Watch this space!