Féile Chaoimhín Uí Dhochartaigh

The late Caoimhin O'Dochartaigh, seated, taking a tune out of the fiddle under the watchful eye of Sean O'Gallachoir from Rosemount, also sadly gone. (2001MM10 )
The late Caoimhin O'Dochartaigh, seated, taking a tune out of the fiddle under the watchful eye of Sean O'Gallachoir from Rosemount, also sadly gone. (2001MM10 )

A four-day celebration of the life of one of the best known figures in the traditional music scene will be held in Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin next month.

Caoimhín Ó Dochartaigh, who died in September 2009, was centrally involved in traditional music circles in Derry for more than 40 years as a musician, teacher, and organiser.

He founded the first branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in Derry in 1972 and, together with his wife, Eibhlín, was instrumental in the development of Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, which opened just before his death.

Féile Chaoímhín Uí Dhochartaigh, which will be held from February 9th to 12th, will feature an all-star line up of musicians, teachers, and performers.

As well as performances, master classes will also be held with leading musicians; Majella Bartley, Kirsten Allstaff, and James Hogan.

The highlight of the festival is likely to be a performance by Bothy Band legends, Kevin Burke and Paddy Keenan, who will join Guidewires on stage at An Chultúrlann.

Intensive Irish language courses will also be offered during the festival.

Mick O’Hanlon, musician and friend of Caoimhín, said it is important to remember his legacy. “Live traditional sessions in Derry around 1972 began as an almost cult activity among younger musicians, who gradually formed themselves into a loose network, determined that guitars, mandolins, fiddles, tin-whistles and bodhráns could be blended into a new kind of Irish folk music.

“Caoimhín Ó Dochartaigh was part of that company of people who began to gather each week in the jammed upstairs room of the Gweedore Bar on Waterloo Street. Caoimhín not only contributed musically to the ever-growing sessions but also helped form the first branch of Comhaltas Ceolteoiri Eireann (CCE) in Derry.

“That involvement with CCE was in itself unique at the time, because the organization had no real outreaches in the north, plus, since the 1950s Comhaltas had been losing ground and needed to swell its numbers all over Ireland. So Caoimhín’s work – he was Chairperson up to the time of his death – was doubly invaluable, both in coordinating meetings and keeping the spirit of the great seminal movement alive,” he said.

Tickets for the events are now on sale at An Chultúrlann. Call 028 71 264132 or email annemarie@culturlann-doire.ie for more information.