Festival Weekend


Sligo Traditional Singers Circle

The Sligo Traditional Singers Circle was set up 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.

We meet for our monthly sessions on the second Wednesday of each month ( 9.00 pm  in winter and 9.30 pm in summer) at Durkin’s Pub  in the village of Ballinacarrow  located between Collooney and Tubercurry on the main Sligo to Galway road.

Frank Finn Traditional Singing Weekend 2018

Our 2018 Festival will be held on Fri 5th, Sat 6th and Sun 7th October 2018. We have an exciting lineup of guests and we are looking forward to your company for the weekend. Confirmed guest artists are:

  • Pat McGeeney
  • Con “Fada” O’Drisceoil
  • Lorcan MacMathuna
  • David Larkin

The venue, as ever, is the Yeats Country Hotel in Rosses Point, Co. Sligo, and it wouldn’t be the same without our Saturday visit to Coney Island, where we will hold our singing workshops, and, of course, our singing/storytelling session in M.J. Ward’s public house on the island, hosted by the McGowan family. Transport to the island will be organised and visitors will be fully informed of arrangements at the Friday evening session.

To introduce our guests:

Con Fada Ó Drisceoil

Con Fada

Corkman Con (Fada) Ó Drisceoil is a skilled accordion player and singer, as well as a great songwriter who has penned hilarious songs written in the style of traditional ones. He is a member of the Four Star Trio group and is in high demand as a performer.

Lovers of humorous verse can satisfy their taste with the work of many writers. Noel Coward, Gilbert and Sullivan, and Tom Lehrer spring instantly to mind. But Ireland has its own tradition of comic song, with many skilled writers keeping the nation laughing. Prominent among these is Con Ó Drisceoil. He is a fan of the writers already mentioned, but he writes in the deadpan style of those more local song-makers that he admires, in the rich Munster traditions of Muscraí and Sliabh Luachra.

In his own self-deprecating account of his writing, he aims for ‘cheap laughs’. But these are produced through outrageously-contrived rhymes allied with a meticulously strict attention to metrical precision, all applied to ordinary situations that have been made epic through his imagination. A case of ‘making The Iliad from a local row’!

To use a phrase of Tom Lehrer’s, cheap laughs may be just what we ‘desperately need today in these trying times of crisis and universal brouhaha’. These songs will provide many deceptively cheap laughs.

CON Ó DRISCEOIL was already celebrated, throughout Ireland – “The Spoons Murder and other mysteries” – was published in 2006. His talent for creating comic songs was recognised in 2009 when he was awarded the TG4 Gradam Ceoil as Composer of the Year.

As well as being a singer he is a upon which he specialises in the music of Cork and Kerry. In this work he has the good fortune to enjoy, in the group The Four Star Trio, the company of musicians Johnny McCarthy and Pat Ahern, with whom he has released two CDs, “The Square Triangle” and “Magnetic South”.

In the company of Hammy Hamilton and Seamus Creagh, his playing and singing can also be enjoyed on the CD “It’s No Secret”.

Lorcan Mac Mathúna


County Cork born Lorcan Mac Mathuna has been described as the shaman of Sean-Nos who conjures a world of intense emotions coloured by mythology and legend. His voice will make you “believe in ghosts” and his songs will bring you through time to witness tales of old Celtic romance and adventure, and experience an oral art of storytelling that stretches from the  recent past to the prehistoric.

An attendee at the premier performance of one of Lorcan’s projects, An Táin, described the effect of his voice:

“Lorcan Mac Mathúna gathers from the air something that is older than the Táin – ageless, primeval, and haunting. He has caught and manifests for us a sound that is fundamental; that has existed since men and women first sang –sang to express what they felt and what they knew to be true. It is the music of mythology – all the cadence of history and prehistory residing in one man’s voice. It calls to the soul, and the soul answers, and we are privileged to listen and hear in our blood and in the fibres of our understanding”

David Larkin

David Larkin

Though reared in Galway, David was born in County Roscommon. His mother Ann, a fine singer, was a frequent and very popular contributor to “I’m Singing in The Crane”, the singing session co-founded and co-chaired by David, which has been running to packed houses for over five years in Galway’s Crane Bar. David learned one of his most popular songs, The Little Beggarman from his father Willie, who loved to sing it as his party-piece.

David’s repertoire consists mainly of comic songs, with a particular affinity for the songs of his fellow county man, Percy French. Much of his influences came from years spent working in Galway’s traditional music pubs. In these establishments David readily soaked up the tradition, regularly hearing the likes of Tim Lyons, Dick Hogan, Terry Smith, Willie Green, Éamonn Brophy, Seán Ryan, Pat Conneely and many other fine traditional singers.

David attended voice-training lessons with acclaimed Uruguayan voice-coach Andres Martorell for four years and performed in several showcases staged for his pupils.

Over the past 15 years David has become a well-known voice and face at myriad singing sessions, festivals and weekends throughout the west of Ireland. He was a guest at The South Roscommon Singers Festival in 2008 and has attended The Frank Finn Traditional Singing Weekend every year since its inception. In July of each year he makes the annual pilgrimage to The Willie Clancy Summer School of traditional Irish Music, Song and Dance in Milltown Malbay where he is a popular contributor to their daily singing sessions. In 2012 / ’13 / ’14 he delivered singing workshops as part of ‘Julie’s Extraordinary Festival de Musique Irlandaise à Tournay’ in the French Pyrenees.

David plays the mouth-organ and fiddle and regularly attends sessions in Galway and the surrounding area as well as visits to all counties west of The Shannon.

Since February 2016 David has been sharing his huge passion for traditional Irish music and song with the public through his weekly programme, Larkin About, on Flirt FM, Galway’s student and alternative radio station. The programme has gained an international audience through being podcasted on Mixcloud.

David hopes to record (and release!!!) his debut album sometime before the end of this century!!!

Pat McGeeney

Pat Mcgeeney 1

Pat McGeeney comes South Armagh, a place which has long been associated with the bardic tradition through stories, songs and lore.

Pat is part of that tradition, being a creative writer with an impressive output of poems and stories, all delivered in his own distinctive style.  He has performed poetic eulogies to many outstanding personalities who have made significant contributions to Irish culture and sport, including Tommy Makem and Páidí O Sé.

He has also taken part in the annual Bard of Armagh competition on many occasions over the years, winning the coveted title a number of times and was the recipient of the “Hall of Fame Award” in 2011.

Booking the Hotel for the Frank Finn Traditional Singing Weekend Festival

As mentioned above, the festival will be based in the Yeats Country Hotel in Rosses Point, Co. Sligo.

We have negotiated a special weekend festival rate of €80.00 per night, per double room for Friday night and Saturday night.

  1. When booking on-line at www.yeatscountryhotel.com please remember to use the code 175199 to ensure that you take advantage of the special weekend rate
  2. Bookings can be taken over the phone at +353 719177211 , but please remember to make clear that you will be attending the festival and you want to get the special weekend rate.

We look forward to meeting you for what promises to be a very enjoyable weekend.

The Festival is a bilingual weekend of singing,  workshops, informal singing sessions, storytelling, audio and video presentations, scholarly talks and a field trip

It features local and visiting singers, speakers, academics, storytellers.

To contact members of the organising committee call:

Deirdre on +353 863097596


Frank on +353 874182185


We wish to acknowledge the support of:

  1. The Arts Council
  2. Sligo County Council
  3. Mayo Sligo Leitrim ETB
  4. Harry’s Bar
  5. Sligo Boat Charters
  6. The McGowan Family, Coney Island

Monthly Sessions

    Image result for st patricks day singers cartoon         Image result for st patricks day singers cartoon

Our next session will be held at 9.00 pm in Durkins Pub Ballinacarrow on Wednesday 18th July 2018. Please note: This is the single occasion in the year when we break with our “Second Wednesday in the Month” rule and instead schedule our session to coincide with the South Sligo Summer School. We look forward to meeting all our friends coming over to the session from Tubbercurry.


Report on The 2017 Festival 

Friday evening

Once again the weather was kind to us with Rosses Point looking its very best for the occasion.  Singers arrived from as far away as South Korea, Italy, Germany, Spain, England, Australia  and Knockroghery.

The weekend was officially opened by the Chairman of Sligo County Council Councillor Seamus Kilgannon.

Chairman Kilgannon praised the work of the Festival committee in preserving our culture and traditions.

Our special Guests Caitríona and Elle Marie gave us fine renditions of their favourite songs and our Storyteller Joe Stewart had us in tears of laughter with his rhytmic stories and not a lie did he tell ! .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Singing went on officially until 2 am and thereafter the last singer had to be in bed before the first one  up for breakfast.


Our morning boat trips to Coney Island disturbed the mirror like calmness of Sligo Bay as the Autumn sun warmed our faces encouraging our early songsters into full voice.

Elle Marie O’Dwyer got the first workshop going as a large crowd gathered beside the cosy open fire in the island cottage.

Caitriona Ni Cheannabháin followed on with her Ceardlann Amhranaíocht as Gaeilge.

Meanwhile the rest of the troops gathered in Wards Island Pub where local radio Ocean Fm recorded the singing session for future broadcast.

John McGowan Island Publican as usual was most generous with his warm welcome and hospitality.

The Saturday afternoon session was held in Harry’s Pub back on the mainland , a large crowd gathered for this session which included the launch of   Anne Marie O’Dwyer’s  CD ” On A Day Like This “

A complimentary lunch which was much appreciated by all was provided by Fenton Ewing

Timeout then for a couple of hours to regroup and recover before Tommie Gorman’s talk “Good Friday to Brexit” at 8.30 pm.

Tommie drew a large audience and gave us a very indepth and informative talk  on the consequences of the collapse of The Power Sharing Executive and Brexit for Northern Ireland  after which he took questions from the floor.

The night continued with a singing session well into the wee hours


The Frank Finn Perpetual Cup Under 18 Singing Competition including scholarship to the South Sligo Summer School 2018 was won by Cáit Gavin  pictured below with Marie Murray, Elle Marie O’Dwyer and Frank Carter

Marie Murray, Elle Marie O'Dwyer Cait Gavin Winner and Frank carter, Cait Gavin









Sunday morning’s farewell session was very relaxed and enjoyable as usual.

Many thanks to all who travelled from near and far to share in our weekend, you make it the great success it has become over the years.

Looking forward to seeing you all again next year Le Cúnamh Dé.


2017 Festival Photos

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                                                                                                                                                                                               2017  Special Guests Biographies:


Caitríona Ní Cheannabháin


Caitríona Ní Cheannabhain


















Caitriona is one of 11 in the Canavan family all of whom are either singers or play instruments.

She grew up listening to her Dad Michael and Granny Màire Ghabha (God rest them both) singing Sean-Nós songs around the house and going on with their daily chores picking the songs up by listening to them singing, rarely writing them down.

So having started to sing from a very young age she went on to take part in competitions winning numerous prizes at Feis Charna and from there she went on to An Oireachtas winning the women’s competition three times.

Caitríona has had the privilege of singing with the Dubliners, Sean Keane, and also travelled to Lorient where she sang for Ireland. She has also taken part in a number of Films and Documentaries including The Póitín, How Harry Became a Tree with Colm Meaney and Adrian Dunbar, Documentaries on TG4 such as “Sean-Nós, Fonnadóirí na hÀirde, and etc. all with her Sean-nós singing.

She teaches Sean-Nós in the schools in Connemara through Gael Accadamh and Irish college students throughout the year, she will be in Tubbercurry for the 2017 South Sligo Summer School.

She took part in Glór Tíre this year on Tg4 and went as far as the quarter finals but still keeps singing ballads and country as well with different artists around the country.


                                                                                        Elle Marie O’DwyerElle Marie O@Dwyer New
















Elle Marie hails from the village of Freemount in North cork.  She has been involved in the Traditional Singing Scene and was tutored by some of the greats of Traditional Singing namely Deirdre Scanlon, Lena Bn. Uí Shé.  Elle Marie’s unique voice and her captivating unique style have helped her to become one of the most recognised traditional singers of her generation.  She has won many All Ireland titles in Fleadh Cheoil and Scór competitions.   She has toured internationally with Comhaltas, in addition to performing in Áras an Uachtarán and Croke Park.

She is a recipient of The Gradam Seirbhíse from Chomhaltas Ceoiltoirí Éireann for her contribution to and promotion of Traditional Singing at home and abroad.  She has been appointed as Traditional Singer in residence by Clare County Council.

Elle Marie is a renowned singing teacher and is always in high demand as a facilitator of workshops and master classes nationwide.  She has released 3 CDs so far “Where the Allow Waters Flow”, “A Roving Heart”, “The Next Generation – Traditional Songs for young singers”.

Joe StewartJoe Stewart


























Joe hails from Tullyrossmearn Co Fermanagh.  He joined The Cashel Mummers 25 years ago where besides portraying “The Turkey Champion” he also began performing recitations, a talent he inherited from his father James.  Since then he has been a welcome addition at Singing Circles, Concerts and anywhere a good humoured and humorous rendition is required.  In 2005 he travelled to Bulgaria with a Cross Community / Cross Border Mumming Group and in 2006 participated in a production of “The Black Pigs Dyke” with The Glen Centre Players.   In 2016 he recorded in Teach Seán MacDiarmada, Kiltyclogher for Irish TV.


Tommie Gorman

Tommie Gorman










Tommie Gorman journalist, born in County Sligo, educated in Summerhill College, studied journalism at the College of Journalism, Dublin.

He began his journalistic work with the Western Journal, based in County Mayo. He joined RTÉ in 1980 and was appointed North-West correspondent.  In 1989, he moved to Brussels to become Europe Editor. He was appointed Northern Editor for RTE in 2001 a position he still holds

He is known for his personal interviews with figures such as Seán Quinn, Gerry Adams and Roy Keane

Tommie was awarded with European of the Year in 2001 for his work on radio and television reports on EU institutions. The award was presented to him in Dublin by President of Ireland Mary McAleese.

 In October 2009,  NUI Galway conferred Tommie with an honorary master’s degree.


Report on the 2016 Festival

Friday evening

As a  ” Side-long twilight set the land aflame”, the crowds gathered for the opening of the Frank Finn Traditional Singing Weekend 2016,  guests arrived from near and far including Mezzo Soprano Mieke Manschot from Holland who has a great interest in Traditional / Sean Nós songs,  a surprise visit from Mai Hernon all the way from USA and others from England and France.

Frank Carter our Chairman officially opened the weekend at 8 pm, it was followed by a very interesting talk on “The Language of Music – Works Songs of Connemara”  by Vince Hearns after which the floor was opened up to an evening of Songs and Story telling from our Special Guest Story Teller Vincent Pierse and other visiting and local storytellers.


As the sun rose once again over Sligo Bay on Saturday morning we all headed over to Coney Island on Daryl Ewing’s boat for workshops followed by a session in McGowan’s Pub.   Rita Gallagher gave a very stimulating presentation on the life and songs of Packie Manus Byrne which was followed by Ceardlann Amhráníochta le Nell Ní Chróinín, we then headed over to McGowan’s Pub for a pre-lunch drink and song.

For our afternoon session we were  back again on the mainland in Harry’s Bar where lunch was provided by Fenton Ewing and local singer Mairin Mannion entertained us with some songs from her upcoming CD ” Will O’the Wisp”

Saturday night’s session began with a fascinating talk by Professor Colbert Kearney on   “The Songs of  Peadar Kearney “

Once again the floor was opened up for a great night of song and storytelling – and as usual the “All-Nighters” sang there way right through the night till breakfast time.


The Frank Finn Perpetual Cup Under 18 Singing Competition including scholarship to the South Sligo Summer School 2017 was won by Tom Gavin.

An informal and relaxed farewell session on Sunday morning was very well attended  as we said our good byes and looked forward to next year’s Festival.








































                                                                                                                                                                         Special Guests 2016
















Nell Hails from the Irish speaking Múscraí Gaeltacht of West Cork. This area is historically linked with a strong heritage of song and music. Nell was exposed to these local traditions of the area from a very young age.  She began singing at the age of 11 under a local singing scheme Aisling Gheal, whose aim is to preserve local songs by teaching them to the younger generation, thus ensuring their preservation. She has enjoyed success in her singing career to date. Her achievements include several underage singing medals and titles from various Irish festival competitions as prestigious as the Oireachas na Gaeilge and The Fleadh Ceoil. Nell is also the youngest ever recipient to receive both ‘TG4’s Gradam Ceoil Traditional Singer of the Year‘ award in 2012 and the prestigious Corn Uí Riada award which she was awarded in 2014. To date, Nell has featured on albums with Raw Bar Collective and Lá ag Ól uisce and appeared on television music programmes such as Geanntraí , Anam an Amhrán and Port. Nell remains true to her local Múscraí Gaeltacht singing heritage, citing the local influences of her parents, Máire Ní Cheilleachair and Eoiní and Diarmuidín Maidhicí Ó Suilleabháin.





Rita Gallagher

















Rita who is formerly from Ballymacahill, Frosses, Co Donegal, now lives in Crossroads, Co Donegal. She grew up in a musical family, where both parents sang, and came to traditional singing in English in her early twenties, going on to compete at several Fleadhanna Cheoil, with some success. She toured England and North America with Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann in the 1980’s, and has been a stalwart at many singing sessions and musical gatherings since then. Her main influences were Paddy Tunney and Dolores Keane initially, but in later years, she has been influenced by many others. She recorded “Easter Snow” in 1997, and “The May Morning Dew” in 2010, both of which are available as a double CD from Rita, or for download on CD Baby at http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/RitaGallagher.



Colbert Kearney









Colbert,  UCC Professor Emeritus of English, was born in Dublin in 1945. Educated at University College Dublin, and King’s College Cambridge before becoming a lecturer, then Professor of Modern English at University College Cork. A novelist and critic, he was an Associate Director of the Yeats International Summer School in Sligo in the 1980’s. He is a grandson of the song writer Peadar Kearney, composer of Amhráin na BhFiann – the Irish National Anthem. He is related to the writers/composers Brendan and Domnick Behan on the Kearney side.

Colbert Kearney’s books include;

  • The Glamour of Grammar: Orality and Politics and the Emergence of Seán Ó Casey (Contributions in Drama and Theatre Studies)
  • The Consequence
  • The Writings of Brendan Behan




Vincent Pierse












Born in Kerry, Vincent inherited his gift from the storytellers of his locality. He grew up listening to stories made famous by seanachaís like the late, great Eamon Kelly. Vincent has performed in venues and at festivals all over Ireland, UK, US and Canada. A renowned storyteller, Vincent also hosted his own show on Shannonside FM called The Open Door. He is a member of the South Roscommon Singers Circle where he regularly spins yarns and he has recently performed with the traditional group Síonnain.   Vincent specialises in humorous Irish tales from the fireplaces of Ireland. He will transport you back in time with stories of blacksmiths and journeymen, when preparing for the station or the return of ‘yanks’ was the social event of the year. Vincent’s side-splitting stories will definitely entertain and amuse.



Vincent Hearns












A Dublin born poet and writer, a son of Mayo parents who lives at the foot of Knocknarea Mountain on the southern shore of Sligo bay.  An Irish speaker he was educated in Dublin by the Irish Christian Brothers, at the Dublin Institute of Adult Education and NUI (Galway).         A collector of Irish music and song for 50 years, he has produced and presented “The Blackberry Blossom” a programme of Irish music and song on NWRFM  for 10 years. He has recorded and broadcast from New York and London. Grant aided by the BAI, he has researched and produced 3 one hour radio programmes on the music and songs of the travelling people. Currently he produces and presents” Cois na Tine” on Ocean FM. A singer of traditional songs, he has toured with the Merchant Group in Ireland, USA, Hong Kong and Australia. He has managed the Comhaltas Tour of Ireland and the Tour of Britain. He has researched written and delivered papers on such subjects as “The History of the Irish National Anthem”; “The Origin and Development of Irish Traditional Music”; “Ag Caoineadh, Ceiliúreadh an Bás—Keening A Celebration of Death”.  “ A Tinker I am, A Tinker am I.”         He has recently retired as Reachtaire of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann with responsibility for the organisation’s activities in Co. Fermanagh, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo.


Mairin Mannion














Mairin is a singer/ songwriter, who lives in Drumcliffe Co Sligo.
Her Father came from a very musical Mayo family. He played Piano and sang beautifully. He had a very creative soul.
Mairin was brought up in Leitrim where her Mothers family came from. Her Mother liked to sing also.
Mairin first took up songwriting in 2011 when her song ” Innisfree” won the Sligo Live” Yeats ” singer/ songwriter competition
as judged by Paul Brady. Patrick Mc Cabe and the late Philip Chevron.
The following year in 2012 her song “Town on a Hill” won the Ballyshannon Allingham Arts singer/ songwriter competition,as judged by Charlie Mc Gettigan, Marian Bradfield and Rory Gallagher.   Mairin’s songs are inspired by People , their Stories, and the Beauty and Magic of this area of the North West of Ireland.
Her first CD “The Will O the Wisp” is being launched this October 2016.


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 the 2015 Festival


All roads led to Rosses Point Sligo for the 2015 Frank Finn Traditional Singing Festival Weekend which was officially opened by our Chairman Frank Carter on Friday followed by a very interesting lecture by  Vince Hearns on “The Songs of the Travelling People”  titled ” A Tinker I am,  A Tinker am I ” after which the floor was opened to a packed house for  a great night’s singing and Storytelling, proceedings officially closed at 2am but the late night revellers continued on until 6 am.

It was with very fond memories and deep sadness that a presentation was made on behalf of The Sligo Traditional Singers Circle to The Family of the late Mick Quinn Singer and Storyteller.  Mick was a great supporter of the weekend – he hadn’t missed one since its inception

Presentation to Quinn Family

Presentation to Quinn Family



All up,  not so bright , but early !  on Saturday morning  for the boat to Coney Island where  Jackie Boyce gave a very informed and absorbing  talk on Napoleonic Ballads.  Eoiní Maidhcí and Danny Maidhcí Ó Súilleabháin from Cúl Aodha  were on next with a workshop on Lúibinís – a sung conversation in Irish between two individuals.  After all that sure a body would need a drink – so away with us to McGowans Pub on the island for some refreshments and the first of our Saturday sessions.   TG4 dropped in to record for An Nuacht which was broadcast the following Sunday night at 7 pm.

With the ” Tide Full in ” we caught the boat back to Harry’s Pub on the mainland for some lunch followed by a singing session. A couple of hours to rest and recuperate before another very interesting presentation from Thérèse McIntyre’s at 8 pm on ” Heros In Traditional and Folk Songs”         The night continued again until the late hours with great performances from our guests Singer Jack Boyce and Story Teller Patsy McDermott


Sunday morning’s farewell session was as always relaxed and casual with reminesences of a great weekend and a forward thought on what might be for next year.

Frank Finn Perpetual Singing Competition ( Under 18’s).  The competition which was adjudicated by Josie Sheáin Jeaic Mac Donncha was won by Liam Needham

Liam Needham winner of Frank Finn Perpetual Cup ( Under 18's) with Frank Carter, Bernie Finn and Josie Sheain Jeaic

Liam Needham winner of Frank Finn Perpetual Cup ( Under 18’s) with Frank Carter, Bernie Finn and Josie Sheain Jeaic

(See more Photos from 2015 Festival in : Gallery Tab and also in Sligo Traditional Singers Circle Facebook page – see link on  Contact Tab)


2015 Special Guests




Jackie Boyce

Jackie Boyce








Jackie now living in Dromahair, Co Leitrim (via Comber, Co Down) started playing whistle in 1967, progressing to the uilleann pipes in 1975 and then became interested in singing in 1977. Collecting songs and ballads set in the traditional form since then and in 2004 published ‘Songs of the County Down’ songs, ballads and poems from in and around Co Down. Recorded a cd along with Co Derry singer Jim McFarland in 2008 ‘Our Ship She Lies Ready’ songs on emigration. Sang at Aras an Uachtaráin for President Mary McAleese and in 2013 was presented the award of ‘Keeper of the Tradition’ by the Tommy Makem, Festival of Traditional Song Committee. Now along with Jim Bainbridge running ‘The Leitrim Singer’s Circle’ Davitt’s Pub in Drumkeeran,  Co Leitrim on the first Sunday of every month.





Thérèse McIntyre

Therese Mcintyre








Thérèse McIntyre, MA (Irish Studies), BA (English/History)Steering Committee, Oral History Network of Ireland (OHNI)(Former) IRCHSS Government of Ireland Scholar Centre for Irish Studies National University of Ireland, Galway

Presenter ‘Hero songs:  Where History and Song Meet’, an Athena Media Production for RTE Radio 1

Winner – Gold (World’s Best Radio Programme – Educational), New York Festival Radio Awards 2014

Shortlist – (Music Programme) Celtic Media Festival Awards 2014

Thérèse  began singing  back in the early 1990’s when she was living in New York and regularly attended the workshops at the Irish Arts Centre and competed in the Fleadh Cheoils.  For the last fifteen years or more, she has pursued independent studies of various aspects of Irish traditional culture with a focus on the song tradition, before moving into academia.  Thérèse has collected hundreds of songs, both in the English and the Irish languages, from various areas throughout Ireland and America and worked with numerous individuals who are well known both inside and outside of the tradition. She is currently a member of the Oral History Network of Ireland’s (OHNI) Steering  Committee and a former Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Science’s (IRCHSS) Government of Ireland Scholar.

She is currently in  the write-up phase of her PhD at NUI Galway’s Centre for Irish Studies, which is titled ‘Historical ‘Fact’ versus ‘Folk’ Memory:  The Creation and Representation of ‘Heroes’ in Irish Traditional Song and Ballad’.  During the Summer of 2012,  along with Dublin-based production company Athena Media she was awarded funding by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s (BAI’s) Sound and Vision scheme that resulted in the award-winning ‘Hero songs:  Where History and Song Meet’ series for RTÉ Radio 1, for which she was the presenter/researcher/writer. The evening’s talk will focus on the elusive female hero within Irish traditional song and ballad.



Eoiní Maidhcí agus Danny Maidhcí Ó Súilleabháin

Osuill 1   Osull 2






Rugadh agus tógadh Eoiní Maidhcí agus Danny Maidhcí  Ó Súilleabháin i gcroílár thraidisiún amhránaíochta i nGaeltacht Mhuscraí in iarthar Coorcaí. Bhí seachtar clainne ag Nuala Ní hÉalaithe as Cill Gharbháin agus Maidhcí Ó Súilleahbáin as Cúl Aodha. Bhí ceol ag an mbeirt tuismitheoir. Bhí bua na hamhránaíochta ag Maidhcí  agus sheinn sé an fhidil. Chruinnigh amhránaithe, ceoltóirí, filí agus seanchaithe le chéile go minic sa teach le haghaidh oíche scoraíochta. D’fhreastail an chlann ar an scoil áitiúil, Barr d’Inse, scoil a bhfuil cáil uirthi ón amhrán den ainm chéanna, agus tháinig siad faoi thionchar Cháit agus Mháire Ní Chúill, a raibh amhráin a bhain leis an áit ar a dtoil acu. Bhí Eoiní Maidhcí agus Danny Maidhcí, a n-athair agus a ndeartháir Diarmaid,Mar bhaill de Chór Cúl Sodhs, faoi stiúr Sheán Uí Riada ar dtús, agus ansin faoi stiúr a mhic, Peadar. Canann siad amhráin as Béarla agus as Gaeilge, agus tá suim ar leith acu sna Lúibiní. Bíonn siad le cloisteáil go minic ar raidio agus ar theilifís. Bhuaigh a ndeirfiúr Éilís Ní Shúilleabháin comórtas amhránaíocht an Oireachtais faoi dhó, agus bronnadh Gradam Sean Nós Cois Life uirthi i 1997.




Patsy McDermott – Storyteller














Patsy McDermott is from Killinkere, Virginia  County Cavan   He is a farmer who started composing and reciting  poems and monologues about 10 years ago – a late starter but better late than never.

His writings and stories relate to his everyday observations of life  He says that this new hobby has opened up a whole new life style for him and has resulted in many friendships the length and breadth of the country



Vince Hearns 








Vince Hearns is a Dublin born poet and writer, a son of Mayo parents who lives at the foot of Knocknarea Mountain on the southern shore of Sligo bay.  An Irish speaker he was educated in Dublin by the Irish Christian Brothers, at the Dublin Institute of Adult Education and NUI (Galway).

A collector of Irish music and song for 50 years, he has produced and presented “The Blackberry Blossom” a programme of Irish music and song on NWRFM  for 10 years. He has recorded and broadcast from New York and London. Grant aided by the BAI, he has researched and produced 3 one hour radio programmes on the music and songs of the travelling people. Currently he produces and presents” Cois na Tine” on Ocean FM

A singer of traditional songs, he has toured with the Merchant Group in Ireland, USA, Hong Kong and Australia. He has managed the Comhaltas Tour of Ireland and the Tour of Britain.

He has researched written and delivered papers on such subjects as “The History of the Irish National Anthem”; “The Origin and Development of Irish Traditional Music”; “Ag Caoineadh, Ceiliúreadh an Bás—Keening A Celebration of Death”.  “ A Tinker I am, A Tinker am I.”

He has recently retired as Reachtaire of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann with responsibility for the organisation’s activities in Co. Fermanagh, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo.







Report on 2014 Festival

The 2014 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.

Tommie Kearns

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.


Helen Grehan

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 Hernon

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 Cleary

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




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2013 Special Guests

Chris Miles

Christ Moyles (2)

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

Josie Sheain 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 McGrath Brid 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 Corscadden

Joe Corscadden






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

Frank Finn Perpetual Cup Under 13'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

Abbeyfeale delegate Joe O’Connor holds everyones attention


Sin scéal eile le Peter Carragher


weekend 2012 Sean Mone and Declan Coyne – is this a duet ?


Micheál learns a new song












John ” The Miller” Power holding court in Sligo




M O'Cuaig Micheál O’Cuaig ag abair Amhrán







Ceardlann Micheál:  An Bfhuil sibh ag éisteacht !




IMG_1531 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











Galway Delegates




















Eric “Sailing home to Coney Island”


  Heading to Harry’s for the afternoon session and a pint



John The Miller Power ( 2012 Guest )

John The Miller Power

John The Miller Power

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

Micheál Ó Cuaig

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 McGowan

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

Peter Carragher

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

Gene Sheerin

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.



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