Irish Hooley

IMDL's 5th annual Hooley to raise the profile of their work and funds towards hosting year round activity (including the newly rebranded annual October Festival of traditional Irish music, song and dance 'Return to London Town'.

This year, IMDL are very excited about launching a brand new arts venue 'Grand Junction' at the newly refurbished, beautiful St Mary Magdalene's Church, Paddington - originally built in 1865 ( as they host their annual 'Irish Hooley' with the legendary Kilfenora Céilí Band plus support from 'The Trad Gathering'. There will also be music in the crypt at various points during the evening with a chance to catch up for a chat and a drink during intervals, and as always …. there'll be the Grand Draw :-)


2009 was the centenary celebration of the formation of the Kilfenora band, one of the top ten longest-established musical ensembles in the world. Not only was this an historic milestone for the band itself but a reminder that Irish culture and traditions are thriving and have survived the test of time. A full history of the band and of music in North Clare is on view at the Kilfenora Céilí Band Parlour, located in the Burren Centre, Kilfenora. (This is the only museum in the world that we know of dedicated to living musical artists, with a wealth of exhibits and audio-visual elements, which was formally opened by the President of Ireland in March 2015.)

The 11-piece band features four fiddles (Eimear Howley, Sinéad Heagney, Anne Rynne, and Annemarie McCormack), two flutes (Anthony Quigney and Garry Shannon), concertina (Tim Collins), accordion (Claire Griffin), banjo (John Lynch), drums (Sean Griffin) and piano (Fintan McMahon). Other musicians from Kilfenora and around augment the band at times for example when performing special concerts, when Sharon Howley on cello and Brian O’Grady (see picture below) join the band, together with fine singers such as Edel Vaughan and Don Stiffe – also featured on the band’s recent CDs.

Most of the current line-up has been together since 1993 under the leadership of John Lynch. With the previous generation advancing in age, the band was going through something of a hiatus in the early 90s. Then John succeeded Kitty Linnane as bandleader and re-entered the band into the All-Ireland competitions – and they repeated the feat of the ’50s band by winning three years in a row (1994-6). Soon they were being invited to Britain, France, America and cruise tours of the Mediterranean, and resumed their position as Ireland’s premier céilí band – and the only one always to perform gigs at full competition strength. Their forte is instrumental music with some harmony and a driving rhythm.

They often play at céilís, but in recent years have increasingly been providing concerts, featuring additional instrumentalists, singers and dancers. Some shows have included audio-visual material too. The band has repeatedly sold out the Irish National Concert Hall in Dublin and are regulars at major festivals around the world, such as Glastonbury and Irishfest in Milwaukee. In 2014, the band led a successful creation of the largest céilí band ever – some 280 people gathered together at the Kilfenora Trad Music Festival – as recognised by the Guinness Book of Records (the certificate is on view in the Kilfenora Céilí Band Parlour).


Younger blood is gradually being introduced into the line-up in order to perpetuate the band’s success. Whatever the future holds, the objective of the present band is to continue in the style of their predecessors. By staying true to traditional instrumentation and repertoire and applying some judicious innovation, they are determined to cement their tradition and secure the future and while so doing reach yet another generation of audiences.


The Trad Gathering, jointly commissioned in 2008 by the BBC Proms and Return to Camden Town Festival, bring together up to 60 of the most talented young traditional Irish musicians from across London. Performances have included: Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Lord Mayor of London’s St Patrick’s Day Festival and more.

The group are currently performing music from the legendary Sligo flute player, Roger Sherlock.

'The Trad Gathering were fantastic - such great tunes that soared around the (Royal Albert) Hall.' Lincoln Abbots, Chief Executive, Music for Youth 

Text supplied by third party.

Performance times

We have no details of upcoming performances, if you do please let us know.

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