Who fears to speak of '98?.....a review of the 1998 festival

O’Keeffe festival an outstanding success

The force behind wind and rain had never experienced the delights of the Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival before so it gorged itself this year.

It did drop in, albeit briefly, on the Monday two years ago and contributed handsomely to another fine weekend by confining many of the homeward bound musicians to their corners -  and they were very willing victims anyway.

There is no doubting that this festival is one of the best things to hit the town and I’d love to hear an argument to the contrary. Witnessing, through every available sense, a mass of people bent on enjoying themselves on a feast of entertainment served up by their fellow beings is alright by me and who can blame the wind and rain for wanting to be part of it.

It lays itself on us like a fog every year, near enough imperceptible at first and all enveloping thereafter - and boy oh boy do we embrace it.

Those of us who indulge more than we should face a long winter after and it’s not uncommon for the committed to hear the odd stray note wafting from pub doors in the course of the following days.

Saluting pioneers and eyeing them up as potential liver donors is another way of passing these frightfully barren days afterwards. Staring into the fish tank below at Brennan’s or at the four-in-a-row posters up town are the only alternatives it seems - and this empty feeling is common enough apparently.

Visitors from places like Miltown Malbay warned us of the downsides of this type of gathering for years now and it makes no difference. 

The torch ignited by Mary Jones and Peter Browne in 1993 burns furiously and is fiercely demanding of anyone wishing to bask in its glow.

This most unconventional committee - by all available standards - has been added to and enhanced over the past few years by people like Nick Lynch , Cormac O’Mahony and Pats Broderick and an array of durable foot soldier under the chairmanship of Mike Kenny.

Mr. Kenny declared himself well pleased at the shape of this year’s event and he estimated that this was the best to date.

There were fine sessions throughout the town over the weekend and fears that the weather would stop people travelling and put a damper on the proceedings were foundless as they showed up in their droves and from all corners of the country and beyond.

Local fiddle player Paddy Jones was involved in a session at Kearney’s Bar on Sunday night and he reckons that it was one of the best he has ever played in and his fiddle workshop at the Ivy Leaf on Sunday afternoon was a tremendous success also.

The poetry workshop at The Crown proved a real winner this year and looks set to become an integral part of proceedings from here on. The organiser of this novel aspect of the festival, Gina McElligott was delighted at the huge turnout at the Crown on Sunday evening and was looking to next year already.

The launch of the CD An Evening At Sliabh Luachra was hit by a power-cut at the River Island Hotel on Saturday but it failed to detract from the occasion  and if anything it only added to the atmosphere as the hotel side of the street was blacked out for a few hours. 

A tradition now, and one that would be missed, is the input from the  ‘I knew Patrick’ brigade  and I’m sure they did - some of them at least. Tom McCarthy’s is the one pure drop which is continuously wrung from this quarter. They will tell you that they were standing at the corner when Patrick  O’Keeffe himself was thrown out of one public house or another in his heyday - and that McCarthy’s was the only house he was welcomed in.

Well it’s over for another year and the organisers will be taking a backward glance over the next few weeks and thanking people for their many contributions to another fine weekend of music and merriment.


John Reidy  Festival PRO   087 2359467

Main   Founder Member's Address    Contacts    Letter from Ciaran MacMathúna

Tribute to Jerry McCarthy 1995   Patron's Page

Accommodation   Press Release 2001   Past Releases