BALLINA was brought to a standstill when some of the performers in this year's Mayo Manchester Tradfest descended upon Bar Square to launch the 2017 festival.
Midwest Radio staged a two-hour live broadcast from the venue yesterday (Thursday) evening, with more than 70 performers on the street outside the popular venue to take part in the launch.
The festival, with over 100 events throughout the county, is one of Ireland's biggest celebrations of traditional Irish music, song and dance.
The free admission VIP launch party featured performances from the Foxford Brass Band, Centre Stage Vocal Academy, the Fianna Phadraig Pipe Band, Joe Keegan from the TV show The Voice, Vinnie Kelley from New Mexico in the USA, the Keegan Academy of Irish Dancing, Michael Fox, Marian Waldron and Dennis McCalmont.
Tony Hennigan from Mayo Manchester commented: “We were delighted to team up with Midwest Radio again to launch our annual festival. This year’s event is our biggest yet, with six main festival hubs located in Attymass, Ballina, Bonniconlon, Castlebar, Foxford and Westport.
“I would like to thank all the performers, who created a great atmosphere for the launch, and I would like to thank Bar Square for hosting the event and the Fr. Peyton Centre in Attymass for providing all the food and refreshments for the performers.”
The action stays in Ballina this evening (Friday), with pipers, musicians and dancers staging a 'Tradfest Trail' from 8 to 10 p.m., calling to key locations such as Sonas Moy Ridge Nursing Home, Hogan's Bar, The Auld Shebeen, Katie’s Corner and The Broken Jug for a series of flashbomb performances.
At 12 noon tomorrow (Saturday) the Fianna Phadraig Pipe Band will be kick-starting the Tradfest celebrations outside The Irish House Bar on Main Street, Castlebar.
Later tomorrow, at 7.30 p.m., the 'Voice of Old Trafford', Alan Keegan from Manchester United FC, will host a special charity gala concert in aid of the Manchester Emergency Fund at Ballina Arts Centre. All profits from the show are being donated to the fund helping victims of the recent terrorist bomb attack in Manchester.
Performers on the night include Patrick Lacken from the Heroes for Hospice group, Centre Stage Vocal Academy, the Ganley sisters, sean nos dancer Tommy Stenson, Dennis McCalmont, Joe Keegan, the Fianna Phadraig Pipe Band and the Keegan Academy of Irish Dancing, Jiving Juniors and Marian Waldron. For tickets (€15), contact Ballina Arts Centre on (096) 73593 or visit www.ballinaartscentre.com.
Following an afternoon visit to the Mayfly Hotel in Foxford for a free afternoon session and refreshments, starting at 2 p.m., the focus turns to Attymass Community Centre on Sunday evening (8 p.m.) as the Mayo Manchester Tradfest joins forces with the Attymass Youth Choir and musicians to stage a special concert marking the closing night of the Attymass Gathering.
There is a limited capacity at the venue and visitors are advised to purchase tickets in advance from Padraic Walsh at the Fr. Peyton Centre on (096) 45374 or visit www.fatherpeytoncentre.ie.
On Monday (August 7), the Tradfest will make a brief appearance at the Bonniconlon Show to officially launch the event at 12 noon, while a special gala concert at Westport Town Hall (7.30 p.m.) is the main feature.
Headlining the concert, which celebrates Westport’s 250th anniversary, will be Mayo’s award-winning trad band Flat Out, joined by Joe Keegan and the Keegan Academy of Irish Dancing, who are trained by the new Lord of the Dance, James Keegan, and his sister, Louise.
Also performing will be the Fianna Phadraig Pipe Band, Dennis McCalmont and special guests. Tickets for this show cost €15 and can be booked on (098) 28459 or www.westporttheatre.com.
The Tradfest will stage a special session in An Sionnach Rua in Bonnifinglas, Attymass, on Tuesday (August 8) to thank Gerry Lavelle, the owner of the pub, for kindly sponsoring the accommodation for the Fianna Phadraig Pipe Band. It starts at 9 p.m.
Finally, the festival will brought to a close at the legendary Matt Molloy's Pub, Westport, on Wednesday (August 9), where a special trad session will commence at 9 p.m.
For a full listing of all the main events plus over 100 fringe events, see www.mayomanchester.com/events.