First Ulster Fleadh lights up Dungiven

Nodlaig Brolly is one of nay talented musicians lined up to perform at Fleadh Uladh in Dungiven. (150711JC2)
Nodlaig Brolly is one of nay talented musicians lined up to perform at Fleadh Uladh in Dungiven. (150711JC2)

Dungiven has been undergoing a major clean-up campaign over the past few weeks, in preparation for the arrival of Dungiven’s first Ulster Fleadh. Many buildings on Main Street have been painted as part of an effort to improve the visual impact of the town, with the driving force behind the campaign being a small committee of volunteers.

Tickets are still available for the Songs of the People concert, an event that is sure to be one of the highlights of this year’s programme.

The concert is aimed at a wide audience, with acts for the hard-core traditional singing enthusiasts, as well as those who enjoy folk music. There will be performances from some of Ulster’s top traditional musicians, including the members of Ioscaid, as well as Dungiven-born Ruadhrai O’Kane (fiddle) and Stevie Dunne (banjo).

St. Canice’s Hall is an unusual choice of venue, but the warm natural acoustics and reverb will be perfect for the theme for the night, with several All Ireland singing champions set to deliver breathtaking unaccompanied performances, including Rita Gallagher and Mary Dillon.

‘It is rare for Dungiven to be hosting such a special musical concert. It will be later broadcast on Colum Sands’ seminal Folk Club programme for Radio Ulster, and BBC Blas Ceoil presenter Lynette Fay will host the evening.’ said one of the organisers.

Acts in the concert will sing from the Sam Henry collection of traditional songs, which contains 690 ballads, and several of Dungiven’s best-known titles, such as The Winding River Roe, The Gem of the Roe, and Fhe Flower Of Sweet Benbradagh Hill.

Benedy Community Centre will play host to a special evening focused on the history and music of the Celtic harp as part of Fleadh Uladh. The line-up for the evening includes local musicians and researchers Seamus O’Kane and Nodlaig Brolly, along with Aoibheann Devlin. There will also be a one-off performance by Argentinean Celtic harpist Athy, who has toured internationally as an acclaimed virtuoso of the instrument.

Seamus O’Kane, Nodlaig Brolly and Aoibheann Devlin recently produced a BBC documentary (Banríon an Cheoil) on the creation of the Downhill harp, an ancient instrument that was originally played at the 1792 Belfast Harp Festival.

The Downhill harp will be showcased on the night, with Nodlaig Brolly’s harp quartet ‘Aisling Oir’ performing music from the Edward Bunting Ancient Music of Ireland collection.

There will also be songs from local Gaeilge singers who are competing in this year’s Fleadh Uladh music competitions.

As well as a selection of music, there will be a short talk by Aoibheann Devlin and Dermot Devlin. The evening is sure to be informative as well as entertaining. Admission is £3, children free of charge.

There will be a barbeque for volunteers involved in Fleadh Uladh on Monday night, as part of the week-long programme of events, to which all town-clean up volunteers are invited.