Speakers covering topics from emigration to poetry to musical roots will entertain audiences this Friday and Saturday, October 25th and 26th, at the annual Féile John McGrath weekend in Westport, organised by Westport branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann.
The Féile now in its fourth year commemorates the life and legacy of the influential Mayo musician and composer John McGrath. There is a fun-filled and varied programme of events over the two days including lectures, music and dance sessions, traditional singing, drama, poetry readings and art and craft exhibitions.
The weekend kicks off on Friday night with a performance from Nóirín Ní Riain, a noted singer, writer, teacher, theologian and authority on the Gregorian chant. She is primarily known for her spiritual songs but also sings Celtic, sean nós and Indian songs as well as playing numerous instruments. Nóirín will discuss her interest in different forms of music and song and will give a performance of ‘Caoneadh na Marbh’ an ancient form of keening song.
Friday night also sees the launch of the recently established youth branch of Westport Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann and there will be a performance by the new members followed by a singers club and music session.
With more than 50,000 people leaving these shores in 2012, Irish emigration is something that communities across the country know only too well and the weekend’s speakers will explore the topic of Ireland’s history of emigration.
Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú, President of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann and eminent Geographer Willie Smith will discuss the impact of emigration on the cultural heritage of Ireland among other topics. Authorities in their field, both men will have some very interesting comments to make on the development and spread of Irish cultural expression throughout the years.
The weekend is also a showcase for Arts and Crafts with many local craftspeople showing their wares on Saturday afternoon including woodwork, jewellery, and food displays. Saturday also sees an art exhibition from some of the region’s emerging artistic talents including local artists Tina Heraty, Breege Staunton and Lisa Olsthoorn. The eclectic exhibition contains various media including sculpture, pastels, charcoals, and paints, many of which have been influenced by traditional forms of Irish music and dance.
If you’ve always wondered why dancing makes you happy then Cathy Gill’s interactive BrainDance workshop on Saturday (Children 2-3, Adults 4-5) is a must-attend event where Cathy will explore the psychological impact of dance and movement on our health and wellbeing.
The weekend culminates on Saturday night with a wonderful, interactive concert and singing club featuring Westport Set dancers, St. Mary’s Choir, Westport Youth Drummers and a host of musicians and singers with everyone encouraged to join in and enjoy the session. Dates, times and more info on all of the weekend’s events can be found on the CCÉ Westport Facebook page.