The Frank Finn Traditional Singing Weekend was from Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th October 2014 at the Yeats Country Hotel, Rosses Point, Co Sligo
The Frank Finn Traditional Singing Festival is designed to encourage foster and perpetuate the singing tradition in the Sligo area by strengthening the bonds of friendship already established between The Sligo Traditional Singers and other singers both in Ireland and abroad.
Report on 2014 Festival
This year’s festival was one of our best attended so far with people travelling from America, Australia, England, France, Germany and Italy. The festival was officially opened by Vince Hearns well known local singer and broadcaster. Helen Grehan one of the Grehan Sisters entertained us with her own compositions and a selection of John Jacko Reilly songs after which the floor was opened to all our local and visiting singers which continued on into the wee hours of the morning.
Saturday morning saw us all up bright eyed and bushy tailed heading across in the boats to Coney Island for workshops in Sean Nós Singing with Niamh de Burca and Storytelling with Fergus Cleary. On then to the Island’s pub for a session and the Ireland launch of Mai Hernans CD ” The Leaving” with Seamus McConnell. Back to the Pier where we had an impromptu session whilst waiting for the boat to come back to collect us. Off down to Harry’s Gastro Pub for a complimentary lunch and afternoon session -” always a great atmosphere” . We then drifted back to the hotel for a couple of hours rest and recuperation before the Saturday night session. Tommie Kearns opened this session with an hour of his favourite songs and then it was opened up to the floor for the rest of the night.
Sunday morning we had The Frank Finn under 13 Traditional / Sean Nós singing competition which was won once again by Cáit Gavin a very worthy winner. This was followed by a relaxed, informal and enjoyable farewell session.
2014 Special Guests
Níamh de Búrca
Niamh de Búrca grew up in an Irish-speaking family in Ranelagh in south Dublin. Her first introduction to songs and singers was through her parents, Gearóid and Sighle, who transmitted their love of tradition to their six children from an early age. Her interest in choral singing led her to join the Park Singers, under the direction of Seán Creamer, where she gained her first experience of performance and touring.
At venues such as the Meeting Place, Slattery’s, International and Grapevine Folk Clubs, she had opportunities to listen at close quarters to singers like Maighréad Ní Dhomhnaill, Máire Ní Bhraonáin, Paul Brady, Andy Irvine. Soon, she was performing herself as a solo traditional singer.
Niamh has performed with the band Fionnuisce and was lead singer with the Ennis-based Grianán when they recorded their album, Maid of Erin. She toured extensively with the Mick O’Brien Band,to Estonia, Spain and the Imaginaire Irlandaise Festival in France. She was also a featured singer in the critically-acclaimed stage show, Ragús, in Galway.
Her long overdue and eagerly-awaited debut solo CD, An áit a bhfuil do chroí, was released in 2005 to critical and popular acclaim, it features a broad spectrum of traditional and contemporary folk songs in Irish and English. Niamh spent a number of years living in Co. Galway, but returned some time ago to her native Dublin, where she works with the Irish language and cultural organization, Gael-Linn.
A native of Ballymote County Sligo who emigrated to England in 1963 and then went on to Perth Australia in 1970 where he became involved in establishing it’s first GAA club. He also joined the local Comhaltas group and subsequently become president of The Perth branch, members of which provided the support act for a visit of The Chieftains with Tommie playeing Tin whistle on stage alongside Matt Molloy. The Irish Australian heritage association awarded Tommie The Brendan award for services to The Irish Australian community.
In his mid 70′s he recorded 4 CDs of traditional songs and last year he made a DVD with the local Sligo Traditional Singers Circle . Tommie has always had a great interest in Traditional Singing and entered many Fleadhs over the years in The West of Ireland – coming 3rd in The All Ireland Fleadh in Boyle in 1960.
Tommie retired in 1999 and has been returning to Ireland annually during the summer months since then where he can be heard singing at all the local Festival and Singing Circles.
A composer, singer and musician who is a native of Boyle CO Roscommon started out on the road in 1963 with her two sisters who became famously known as The Grehan Sisters. In the subsequent years they appeared on TV, Radio, Concerts and Pubs all around the country and also toured The Folk Scene across England. Helen and her sisters recently appeared in a tribute concert with Christie Moore to John Reilly who was a member of The Travelling Community and from whom Christie got a lot of his songs. Helen has composed many songs about Emigration, Injustices, Worker’s Struggles some of which she will perform as one of our special guests .
Mai comes from the heart of Michael Coleman country, namely Gurteen, Co Sligo. She grew up listening to the best of Irish traditional musicians; singers and she danced with the old men and women who would take her out for a set of Lancers. Her first influence was her Mother, Helen, who was a beautiful singer herself. She, growing up would hear local singers such as James Murray, Séamus Tansey, Peter Horan, Johnny Hannan, Batty Sherlock, who were also great musicians, singing old powerful songs. In later years she met Dolores Keane and Anne Mulqueen and singers from Connemara who wetted her interest in traditional singing.
Mai now has three critically acclaimed CD’s on the market and she has just recorded her fourth. She has toured Europe, England, Ireland and is now touring America where she is really making a name for her. She has toured with her husband Mick McEvilley with their duet, called “Celtic Font” and she also has a four piece all female traditional band called “Beeswing”. She has conducted workshops and performed at some of the biggest Irish/Celtic festivals in America, namely, The Dublin Irish festival Ohio, The Catskills Irish Arts week, Berea Celtic Fest, The Cincinnati Celtic fest, The World fest in Louisville, the list goes on and on. She has singing students in every corner of America, as she conducts one to one lessons on Skype. She recently made her first appearance in a short movie called “Le Sauvetage” which was shown at the Cannes film festival. Her latest album has at least three songs, which was given to her by the authors. The name of it comes from the first track called “The Leaving”. The famous Cormac MacConnell gave this song to her.
Fergus a native of Convoy Co. Donegal. His mother was a Carty from Coney Island Co. Sligo. Fergus played with Showbands in the 60′s and is a well known Actor and Storyteller with Letterkenny Music and Drama Society. He is also a member of The Lifford Players and The Butt Drama Circle Ballybofey. He performed in the John Player Tops of The Town in Letterkenny. He has written and performed many one-man pieces for stage.
Fergus was Donegal Man of The Year 1988 in recognition of outstanding work for charity, particularly rehab work with St. Conal’s Hospital Letterkenny. He was also Rehab person of The Year in 1998. He was awarded the 2007 Harris Fellowship by Chamber of Commerce, Letterkenny.
Report on 2013 Festival
The 2013 weekend was another outstanding success with large numbers of our regular supporters attending and also quite a few new faces which was very heartening to see.
Once again the overwhelming sense of friendship and camaraderie among local and visiting guests created a great atmosphere for singing and story telling.
The weekend was launched by Chairman Frank Carter on Friday evening at 8pm. The singing got underway shortly after with the local Sea Shanty group providing half an hour of Shanty songs. They were followed on by one of our special guests Chris Miles who gave us an hour of some of her favourite songs from her extensive repertoire. Chris presented these songs in her own very relaxed and humorous way which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. After this it was open house and a great night of singing and story telling continued into the small hours of the morning.
Saturday morning opened with a workshop attended by over 20 singers given by our special guest Josie Sheáin Jeaic Mac Donncha. He talked about a number of songs, some of which had been passed down to him from his father and gave us his own wonderful version of An Bonnán Buí – an absolute treat.
With the weather gods in our favour we then all headed across the bay to Coney Island – as the boat loads arrived – those already disembarked started an impromptu session at the island’s crossroads before heading off on a guided tour of the island led by our chairman Frank Carter who spent many a childhood day exploring the area. With the sun shining, the thirst was rising, so we all ended up in McGowan’s pub for a song and a glass. Having whetted our whistles and sung our songs we headed back to the mainland for lunch and an afternoon session in Harry’s bar, where once again we had a full house with songs and stories galore.
Saturday evening commenced with a very insightful and personal lecture on the life of Josie McDermott ” The Bard of Coolmeen” a traditional Irish composer, singer and flute player given by Bríd Duffy and her brother Hugh McGrath. Bríd and Hugh and their late sister Peggy had played alongside Josie in local Cheilí Bands.
Saturday night’s singing session which commenced at 9.30 pm was attended by a very large crowd who enjoyed tremendous singing and with Joe Corscadden our special guest story teller and Mick Quinn both in full flight we were all in stitches. The nighthawks finally wilted around 5 am.
Sunday Morning : 10am saw the inaugural holding of our under 13 Sean Nos/Traditional singing competition for The Frank Finn Perpetual Cup which was won by Cáit Gavin and Patrick McDonagh was the runner up.
Sunday morning’s “Farewell Session” is always a mixture of new friendships made, fond memories and sad goodbyes with an eager anticipation for next year’s weekend, Oonagh McArdle under 18 all Ireland champion 2013 sang the “Parting Glass” as she has done every year since our inaugural weekend.
2013 Festival Photos
2013 Special Guests
Chris Miles is a well known singer of traditional songs in her native Scotland, and in England. She is also a familiar voice in Ireland, and around sessions in county Sligo, where she has a second home.
Chris has guested at many singing events in all three countries, and has a huge repertoire of songs, and like most singers, these are from a variety of sources, not all traditional. The important factor for her in choosing a song is that it means something to her, something that she takes the responsibility of trying to convey in the presentation of the song.
Josie Sheáin Jeaic Mac Donncha
Tá cuid mhór den domhan siúlta ag Josie Sheain Jeaic MacDonncha, máistir ar thraidisiún amhránaíochta ar an sean nós as an Aird thiar, Carna.
Bhí Josie mar amhránaí cónaithe ag Ionad staidéir na Gaeilge in NUI Gaillimh idir 2003 agus 2004, áit ar bronnadh céim oinigh MA ar i 2012.
Tá go leor amhrán ar thaifead aige, tá Corn Uí Riada buaite aige trí huaire as a chéile, agus glacann sé páirt go rialta ag Oireachtas na Gaeilge agus Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.
A much travelled Master of the Sean-Nós singing tradition from An Aird Thiar, Carna. Josie was singer in residence at the Irish Studies Centre at NUI Galway in 2003-2004 where in 2012 he was awarded an Honorary Masters of Arts degree . He has made numerous recordings, is a three times winner of Corn Uí Riada and is a regular performer at Oireachtas na Gaeilge and Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.
Hugh McGrath and Bríd Duffy
Hugh and his sister Brid grew up on the Sligo Roscommon border where both played in the Moonlight Ceili Band alongside Josie McDermott the renowned musician, composer and singer. Hugh who now lives in Barna is very involved in different music circles in the Galway area is also chairman of the Galway Percy French Society.
Bríd a talented musician and singer is chairperson of the Boyle Traditional Singers Circle.
Joe a well known composer, storyteller and singer originally from Longford now living in Tubbercurry has been composing and telling stories for more than 20 years. He was influenced by Willie Harkin a local story teller he met when he first moved to Tubbercurry in the 1970’s.
Frank Finn Perpetual Cup under 13′S
Bernie Finn wife of the late Frank Finn one of the founding members of Sligo Traditional Singers Circle presenting The Frank Finn Perpetual Cup under 13′s to Frank Carter Chairman and Deirdre Cox Secretary Sligo Traditional Singers Circle. Competition for the cup will be held from 10am to 12 noon on Sunday 6th Oct during the Festival weekend. Adjudicator : Josie Sheáin Jeaic Mac Donncha
Report on 2012 Festival
The 2012 weekend was an outstanding success with larger numbers attending than previous years.
The overwhelming sense of friendship and camaraderie among local and visiting guests created a great atmosphere for singing.
The Sligo Gospel Choir got the show on the road on friday evening with a lovely selection from their repertoire.
Special Guests John The Miller Power and Micheál O’Cuaig went down a treat, their workshops were excellent and very well attended.
Peter Carragher, Gene Sheerin and Joe Corscadden ( Storytellers ) had us in stitches all weekend
Joe McGowan gave an exceptionally informative lecture and audio visual presentation on the Fireside Poets.
The weather was very kind for Frank Carter’s Maritime and Historic walking tour of Rosses Point. He enlightened us all
on the various points of interest including ” Deadman’s Point”, ” Memory Harbour” , “The Metal Man”, “Oyster Island”, ” Coney Island”
the treacherous channel known as “Sruth na Míle” and Elsinore where the Yeats family spent many a summer.
The tour ended in Harry’s pub where complimentary lunch was served by Fintan Ewing in his captivating Maritime Bar and Restaurant
Lunch was followed by a wonderful singing session.
We had full houses for our friday and saturday nights singing sessions with singers from all corners of Ireland, France, Italy and UK .
Very positive feedback was received from our guests and all who attended the Festival
Joe O’Connor holds everyones attention
Sin scéal eile le Peter Carragher
Sean Mone and Declan Coyne – is this a duet ?
Micheál learns a new song
John ” The Miller” Power holding court in Sligo
Micheál O’Cuaig ag abair Amhrán
Ceardlann Micheál: An Bfhuil sibh ag éisteacht !
A full house in Harry’s Bar
Mick Quinn has everyone laughing as usual
Joe Corscadden is worried about that Feckin Fracking and Septic Tanks
Frank’s Walking Tour on the move
Sligo Gospel Choir getting things off to a swinging start on Friday evening
Vince Hearns gives us a song
Beneri Óg Quinn handing it down the generations
Joe McGowan tells of The Fireside Poets
Camilla Galbiati the Italian influence
All the way from Inishowen
Eric “Sailing home to Coney Island”
John The Miller Power ( 2012 Guest )
John The Miller Power was born in Knockenduff Tramore County Waterford in the early 1940’s and now lives in Moonvoy Tramore he has been singing all his life and is at his best singing about his native county. John held court in Haughton’s bar in Ross, Kilmeaden for many years nowadays he can be found in Brandane Inn in Bannow Co. Wexford where he joins fellow singers PaddyBerryand friends. John won the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil on two occasions in Listowel 1996 and Ballina 1997
Micheál Ó Cuaig ( 2012 Guest )
Micheál Ó Cuaig Sean-Nós Singer is a native of Cill Chiaráin, Micheál qualified as a primary school teacher in 1970 and was principal of Scoil Naomh Ciarán for sixteen years. Throughout his teaching career, he organised classes and workshops in sean-nós singing for his pupils. Having fallen under the spell of Joe Heaney at a young age, he has organised an annual festival, Féile Joe Éinniú, which celebrates Heaney’s legacy, for the past twenty years. In order to further commemorate Heaney’s contribution to Irish music, Micheál presented a copy of the Joe Heaney Archive held at Washington University, Seattle to NUI, Galway and that material is now located at Áras Shorcha Ní Ghuairim in Carna. Micheál was Sean-Nós singer in residence at The Centre for Irish Studies at NUI,Galway in 2007
Joe McGowan ( 2012 Guest )
Joe Mc Gowan is a native of Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo. Born on the family farm, he worked there in his early years until emigrating to the U.S.A.in the ‘60s.
On his return, becoming keenly aware of the accelerating pace of change in the Irish countryside, he decided to record the old lore before it vanished completely. A fireside pastime, prior to the advent of television, of particular interest to him was the writing of songs by local bards with a flair for words. They celebrated in song and verse, weddings, elopements, country dances and indeed their compositions could often be sharply satirical.
Joe’s books and lectures are inspired by countless nights spent listening to the stories of the older generation. His short stories, cameos of Irish life both past and present, feature frequently in magazines, on local radio and on RTE. The days of the local bards and storytellers are gone but their knowledge and lore will, happily, live on in Joe’s books and talks.”
Peter Carragher ( 2012 Guest )
Peter Carragher poet and storyteller a native of Cullyhanna, South Armagh first discovered his talent while working in the Yukonin Alaskawhere he had some of his poems published in the local Faro newspaper. He returned home in 1980 and wrote the well-known “Ballad of Shank’s Mare” which tells the story of his two uncles caught under the influence.
Peter chronicles the ways and lives of his native people and countryside in particular humorous events whilst keeping local history alive. He has published a compilation of his ballads and poems in a collection titled the “The Rusted Roof”
Gene Sheerin ( 2012 Guest )
Gene Sheerin is a storyteller from North Sligo, who enjoys telling stories at many charitable functions throughout theNorth West.
In 2010 he launched his C.D called “Tall Tales” and sales exceeded all expectations, total profits of which were donated to charity.