The best events at Dublin’s TradFest 2013

  • The List
  • 22 January 2013
The best events at Dublin’s Tradfest 2013

Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill

Highlights at the annual music festival, featuring Martin Hayes, Dennis Cahill and the Sands Family

TradFest kicks off again today for the 8th year. It’s Dublin’s biggest festival of traditional music and culture -- designed to expand your mind far beyond any Riverdance clichés and shine a spotlight upon Ireland’s rich musical traditions. Bringing together fiddlers, pipers, harpists, Celtic dancers and filmmakers – in pubs, cathedrals and live music venues around the Temple Bar area, we help you pick out the best events over the next six days:

Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill with the Sands Family
To his fans, Martin Hayes is pretty much the don of traditional Irish music, and this date is one of the biggies of the TradFest programme. A virtuoso fiddler from County Clare, now based in Connecticut, he weaves intricate jigs, urgent reels and warm, folky blasts on his violin, accompanied by long-time musical partner Dennis Cahill on guitar. This concert in the historic Christ Church Cathedral sees the duo backed by the Sands Family, a folk group who’ve been flying the flag for Irish music around the world for forty years.
Christ Church Cathedral, Wed 23 Jan, 8pm.

Remembering Barney McKenna
A legendary and much-loved banjo player who performed at TradFest last year, and sadly died last Autumn, McKenna was the founding member of legendary folk band, The Dubliners in the 1960s. Conjuring up an instant country-pub vibe with their jangly folk, the Dubliners helped put Irish traditional music on the map, and counted Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix amongst their fans. Although they claimed to be retiring after McKenna’s death in 2012, they popped up on Jools Holland’s New Year’s Hootenanny, playing ‘Irish Rover’ and ‘Whiskey in the Jar’.
City Hall, Sun 27 Jan, 5pm, SOLD OUT; see also the Irish premiere of 1970 documentary, ‘The Dubliners – A celebration’, screening at the Irish Film Institute, Sun 27 Jan, 1pm.

Ó Riada re-imagined!
One that’s sure to bring shivers to the spine. The music of Cork-born composer Seán Ó Riada gets a modern reworking in this church concert. Ó Riada’s haunting Mass has been given a new arrangement by Uzbekistani composer, Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky, and will be performed by Louth Contemporary Music Society (LCMS), bringing together harp, fiddles and bodhran with a 16-voice choir. Expect crystalline harmonies in a beautiful setting, a few minutes down the road from Christ Church.
St Werburgh's Church, Thu 24 Jan, 8pm.

Natural Grace: Irish Music and Martin Hayes
A chance to catch a documentary on fiddle player Martin Hayes, who performs at TradFest on Wednesday night. Filmed over two years, Natural Grace follows the musician from his home in East Clare on tour in the States and Japan. Directed by Art Ó Briain, the portrait of the man credited with bringing traditional Irish music to a contemporary audience was voted Best Irish Feature Documentary at the Galway Film Fleadh 2012.
Irish Film Institiute, Sat 26 Jan, 1pm.

Follow the Music Trail
Over and above the official festival programme, 17 venues are putting on hundreds of free performances this week. Get a round of Guinnesses in and enjoy the craic from the comfort of your bar stool while musicians play, or pick up an instrument and do a turn, if you feel so inclined.
Various venues, free, download a PDF of the music trail map from

Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill

The Dubliner's Barney McKenna Remembered

The Dubliners - The Irish Rover

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