Higgins, Moore for Féile na Laoch
President and poet Michael D Higgins and singer-songwriter Christy Moore are among the artists to confirm their participation in this summer’s Féile na Laoch in Cúil Aodha.
Mr Higgins was among the poets on stage when Féile na Laoch — festival of heroes — was last held seven years ago, shortly before he was elected president.
A noted writer with four poetry collections to his name, President Higgins returns to a field in Cúil Aodha on the Cork-Kerry border at the end of July to take part in an openair festival with performances by ‘heroes’ of the arts of music, song, dance, story, poetry, drama, and sport.
Christy Moore has also confirmed his participation, having described the 2011 féile as “perhaps the best festival I have ever attended”.
A multi-disciplinary arts festival, Féile na Laoch is organised every seven years in honour of the composer Seán Ó Riada, whose works include the musical score for the iconic 1960 film Mise Éire.
The inaugural féile in his adopted village of Cúil Aodha was a two-part celebration both of Ó Riada’s 80th birthday and 40 years since his death. It included an overnight ‘Aeraíocht’ commemorating the composer and a host of modern-day cultural heroes.
The 2018 festival will again be in two parts, the first taking place between July 27 and August 1, Ó Riada’s birthday, and the closing part on September 28-30, coinciding with the date of the composer’s death in 1971.
Among the highlights of the first part of Féile na Laoch are:
An opening parade and street party in Cúil Aodha on July 27.
Lá na gCeoltóirí on July 28, including a pipers’ conference led by Mick O’Brien, and a harpers’ convention the same day, led by Laoise Kelly.
Past winners of both the singing and music competitions named in honour of Seán Ó Riada, the Corn Uí Riada and Seán Ó Riada gold medal, will perform on the same stage for the first time, in a special concert on July 28.
A Pilgrimage Day on July 29 begins with 10am Mass broadcast live from Cúil Aodha on Raidió na Gaeltachta. At noon four separate pilgrimages leave the village, to the ‘City’ at Cathair Crobh Dearg, the holy sites of saints Gobnait and Abán in Baile Mhúirne and Naomh Lachtaín in Cill na Martra, and to Gougane Barra, with talks at each site. A meeting on church music under the direction of John O’Keeffe of Maynooth University will be followed by a religious music Tenebrae, with the lights in Cúil Aodha church quenched one by one, to the singing of Cór Chúil Aodha, Cór Ban Chúil Aodha, and a choir from Maynooth.
Lá na nÓg on July 30 includes youth competitions in sports, art, music, and chess, and Féile na Laoch medals for winners, the day ending with a céilí.
‘An Mór Aonach’ on Tuesday July 31: A cultural exhibition honouring the heroes of Féile na Laoch, with an oration from President Higgins. Participants will parade to the field where each discipline of artists will perform on stage for one hour, starting at 9.30pm with recitations and storytelling. The stage will be rotated to the right between disciplines, until sunrise on August 1, when ‘Mise Éire’ will be played by a massed orchestra. At 6am sporting heroes will emerge over the hills to play a short GAA game.
August 1 sees an international war pipes competition on the banks of the River Sullane.
A film competition, in the spirit of is open to new films addressing the question of who or what is Ireland.
Broadcaster, composer, and choir director Peadar Ó Riada, eldest son of Seán Ó Riada, is the driving force behind Féile na Laoch. He explained that the events will be free of charge, with the exception of the concert of Corn Uí Riada and Ó Riada Gold Medal winners, which has limited seating capacity. All artists are performing free of charge, but in order to defray costs, the organising committee is seeking sponsorship in the form of advertising in a commemorative booklet.
He recommended those wishing to take part in the film and youth competitions, and those attending the piping and harp conferences, to complete online forms available on feilenalaoch.com.
President Michael D Higgins: One of the poets appearing at Féile na Laoch in Cúil Aodha on July 31.