Legendary Kilfenora Céilí Band confirms Mayo concert date

With a Guinness world record, performances across the globe and over 110 years of experience under their belt, the Kilfenora Céilí Band are showing no signs of slowing down that lively, spirited sound they’re so renowned for, with two unmissable shows presented by TEG MJR Eire on the calendar for 2022.

The band will take to the stage at the Royal Theatre Castlebar on April 2 next year.

Tickets have gone on sale on Ticketmaster.ie for the Castlebar date.

Winners of a host of awards since their formation in 1909 along with numerous recordings, concerts and television appearances both at home and abroad, this eclectic group of musicians from a small village near the Burren have managed, many times against the odds, to keep a tradition not just alive but alive and kicking!

Over the years the band has brought its distinctive driving rhythm worldwide to festivals and venues including Glastonbury, Milwaukee Irish Fest and Mid-Summer Swing at The Lincoln Centre New York, as well as London, Paris, Horgen, Switzerland, and Cleveland. Now they are hitting the road at home again..

And in keeping with their motto, ‘you don't play to be listened to. You play to be danced to’, the band will be joined by dancers and social media sensations Matthew and Michael Gardiner and dancer Sinead Neylon on both nights, plus singer Edel Vaughan.

As for the origins of Ireland’s pioneering ceilí band, the earliest newspaper reference to a band in the Co Clare village was made in The Clare Journal, 1888 which reported on the "Kilfenora Band" who played outside the courthouse in Ennis as an expression of solidarity for a group of local land activists who were being tried for a raid during which a constable had been killed.

This fife and drum band gradually evolved into a more serious brass and reed band and eventually, in 1909, formed the first Céilí band.

At the time, Céilí bands were often engaged for organised dances in the "big houses", many of which had their own private ballroom.

Following the civil war, a more inward-looking puritanical mood began to grip the clergy and in 1935 the Government introduced a public dance hall act that adversely affected the practice of holding dances in houses.

The Kilfenoras embraced this change while remaining true to their origins and continued to enjoy great popularity both at home and abroad during the late 1940s.

By the 50s, they were in such demand that their pianist Kitty Linnane assumed the task of band secretary and grew into the role of leader of the band for the next 40 years.

The heyday reached its peak in the 50s and 60s when céilí bands competed against one another at the Fleadh Ceoil, where the electric atmosphere was akin to that of an all-Ireland hurling final, with supporters cheering on the home side. Friendly rivalry between bands such as the Tulla and the Kilfenora Céilí bands is now near legend.

By the late 70s people began to desert the poorly lit and badly heated barns of dancehalls for the comfort of the pubs. By the late 80s and early 90s, a set dancing revival had swept the music world however, and from 1993 to 1995, a younger generation Kilfenora Céilí Band replicated the three in a row All-Ireland winning feat of the band in the 1950s.

The centenary celebration of the formation of the first Kilfenora Céilí band took place in 2009. By staying true to traditional instrumentation and repertoire, the present outfit is determined to maintain and preserve authenticity and reach yet another generation of dancers, supporters and musicians.