Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival  2001

October Bank Holiday Weekend - Friday 26 to Monday 29


Things are being put in a state of annual readiness in the Kerry town of Castleisland as the October Bank Holiday Weekend and the Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival draw near.  This year’s event will run from Friday 26 to Monday 29 - with a little spillage onto the following Tuesday and possibly Wednesday.


Held over the holiday weekend, since 1993 the festival has attracted some of the biggest names in the traditional music scene in this country.


People like Sean Keane, Tim Dennehy, Dessie O’Halloran, Andrew Murray, Johnny Moynihan and many more have joined locals at Tom McCarthy’s Bar for the singing session on the Saturday afternoon. This has proved one of the most enjoyable aspects of the festival to date - judging from the range of reaction of visitors and natives.


The presence of many fine, local musicians like: Denis McMahon, Jack and Celia Regan, Paddy Jones, Ned O’Connor, Nicky and Anne McAuliffe and Sliabh Luachra living legends Johnny O’Leary and Maurice O’Keeffe,  to indulge in the dangerous practice of  naming only a handful,   have been joined by the Begley brothers, Breandán and Seamus, Matt Cranitch, Donal Murphy, Tommy O’Sullivan, Frankie Gavin, Eoin O’Sullivan and Gerry Harrington - again providing just a few names to give an idea of the quality of line-up which the event has enjoyed over the past eight years.  

This year’s line-up includes many old favourites and Jackie Daly makes a welcome return after a few year’s absence.  


It was at Peter Browne’s suggestion that the first festival was organised in Castleisland back in October 1993.  Earlier that year he had completed an extensive research project on the life of the Glounthane musical genius. This undertaking later became the basis for a four-part RTE Radio 1 documentary which was first broadcast in 1994.


 It also prompted the national broadcasting station to compile and release a collection of digitally re-mastered tracks of O’Keeffe’s unique fiddle playing gift. These recordings were made by another giant in the field of Irish traditional music, Seamus Ennis with the Radio Eireann Mobile Recording Unit in 1948 and ’49. The compilation The Sliabh Luachra Fiddle Master was launched in Castleisland during the festival of 1993 to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the death of Patrick O’Keeffe.


From its inception in 1993 the festival has adopted a nurturing approach to the Sliabh Luachra style of music and playing; a style which O’Keeffe is heavily credited with harbouring and imparting through the bad years - years before it became all the go.


There has been  greater emphasis, in more recent years, on the educational aspects of the festival with classes on the traditional instruments of the Sliabh Luachra area being brought increasingly into focus each year.


 Meanwhile, plans are being completed and the final line-up of musicians is being completed.  The ripping sessions,  which have been the hallmark of the Castleisland festival through the past eight years,  will again be a feature in over a dozen pubs dotted throughout the town. 


Patrons can pick up a detailed pub trail programme for the weekend and this will be available in bars throughout the town on the Friday afternoon. However the organisers advise that these programmes are, by nature,  provisional guides and subject to change. Even so, they have been a little more than reasonably accurate in the past.


Seasoned festival goers will understand that it is always a good idea to keep an ear to the ground for the best, impromptu sessions. These unscheduled outbreaks have been a delightful feature of many of the previous eight festivals and the spontaneity which ignites them lives on in the memory long after the final notes have been played.  


Another development which helped greatly with the scattering of festival information last year was the setting up a website. The site also contains names , addresses and telephone numbers of accommodation outlets in the area. This year’s updated version can be accessed through the following address:


Information from: John Reidy -  066 71 42310 /  Mike Kenny - 087 6462093 / Cormac O’Mahony - 066 71 41263  



Festival Picture Gallery

Breandán Begley is one of the regular performers at the Patrick O'Keeffe Traditional Music Festival - when touring schedules allow.

©Photo: John Reidy


The first session of the inaugural Patrick O'Keeffe Traditional Music Festival took place at The Rambling House on Friday evening, October 22-1993. Pictured before the music began were: proprietor Mary Jones with, from left: Tim Kiely, Jerry McCarthy, Johnny O'Leary, Dan O'Connell, Paddy Cronin and Denis McMahon.

© Photo: John Reidy


Jackie Daly - the world famous box player is a welcome addition to the 2001 Patrick O'Keeffe Traditional Music Festival in Castleisland.

©Photo:  John Reidy


Regulars at the Patrick O'Keeffe Traditional Music Festival in Castleisland are:  Seamus Begley,  Baile na nGall  (left)  and fiddle player, Diarmuid O'Brien, Glin, Co. Limerick.

© Photograph: John Reidy


Pipers,  Dave  Hegarty (left) and Peter Browne pictured during a workshop on Sunday, October 24-1993 at the first Patrick O'Keeffe Traditional Music Festival.

©Photo: John Reidy


Patrick O'Keeffe in the famous photograph taken by Liam Clancy during a trip to Kerry in August 1955.

Photo: Liam Clancy


No stranger to Castleisland, singer Seán Keane took part in concerts and impromptu sessions over a few years of the Patrick O'Keeffe Traditional Music Festival.

©Photo: John Reidy


Sliabh Notes - regulars at Castleisland's  Patrick O'Keeffe Traditional Music Festival over the October Bank Holiday Weekend.

© Photo: John Reidy


Ready for a song: Tim Dennehy - the Co. Clare domiciled Kerry born singer who is the anchorman for the popular Saturday singing afternoon during the annual Patrick O'Keeffe Traditional Music Festival.

 ©Photo: John Reidy


Main   Founder Member's Address    Contacts    Letter from Ciaran MacMathúna

Tribute to Jerry McCarthy 1995   Patron's Page

Accommodation   Press Release 2001   Past Releases