Chief O'Neill Music Festival

Chief O'Neill Music Festival Celebrating the Legacy of Captain Francis O'Neill


From 8 – 10 September 2017 we celebrate the musical legacy of Chief O’Neill in Bantry with a traditional music festival to highlight his achievements as a collector of traditional Irish music.

Join us each year to enjoy O’Neill’s amazing legacy as we bring the best contemporary musicians to West Cork for packed programme of concerts, workshops, sessions and fun here in Bantry.

Please Bookmark our site for more information about the 2017 Festival as it becomes available.

As the famous ‘Chief’ of the Chicago police force, Captain O’Neill won fame and affection in America, but he never lost his love for the Irish music he had learned as a child growing up in Tralibane near Bantry in West Cork. Noticing that Chicago, with its large Irish population, was home to brilliant musicians from across Ireland, O’Neill set about building a unique collection of the tunes they played: a songbook for the musicians of the future. Chief O’Neill not only collected traditional tunes from Irish musicians in Chicago, he also published them in an impressive series of books which are still in print today. In the process, O’Neill helped to safeguard the future of traditional Irish music on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Chicago, and in West Cork, his memory has been kept alive over the last century, and we’re delighted that our festival will bring his important legacy to an even wider audience. Help us to honour his achievements by coming to Bantry for the Chief O’Neill Traditional Music Festival each year.

Our Opening Concert in 2016

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Frankie Gavin and De Dannan
Also The Gavin Family and Seán Ó Sé

St Brendan’s Church Bantry
Friday 9 September

Frankie Gavin, who is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s fastest fiddle player, collaborated with, among others, Sir Yehudi Menuhin and Stephane Grappelli as well as rock stars, Elvis Costello and The Rolling Stones. In 2009, Frankie Gavin decided to revived the band name De Dannan and formed the band Frankie Gavin and De Dannan. Under this name, the band has gone from strength to strength. In addition to high profile performances for American and Irish presidents, the Monaco royal family and the Music Festival which preceded the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Frankie Gavin and De Dannan have continued to maintain close contact with their roots; many of their home gigs take place in arts centres and theatres across Ireland as well as at traditional music festivals.

The current line-up, consists of Frankie Gavin on fiddle, viola, flute and whistle, Barry Brady on button accordion, Dan Bodwell on double bass, Colm O'Caoimh on guitar, and vocalist Bernadine Casserly. On instrumental numbers, for which the band are rightly world famous, the powerhouse of this line-up is the interplay, especially on the faster numbers, between Gavin and Brady, both masters of their instruments, who ricochet off each other in a way which brings standing ovations from audiences who are lucky enough to see them live.

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The band’s repertoire includes their trademark sets of lively, sometimes furious jigs and reels –– but their choice of material, arrangements and playing style combine to set traditional Irish music in a wider musical and cultural context. This 21st century line-up infuses the band’s inherited music with a bewildering range of influences – from gypsy jazz to contemporary pop music, and from mainstream European classical music, to sentimental Irish-American ballads. The band’s latest recordings, the CD Jigs and Jazz II and their recent single which pairs Handel’s The Queen of Sheba with Paul McCartney’s Calico Skies, illustrate perfectly the fusion of sounds and influences that now characterise their music.

Frankie Gavin and De Dannan lead us into exciting sometimes unknown territory. By any standard, this is a remarkable achievement, made possible by Gavin’s vision of where Irish music can and should go and by the commitment and musical skill of the members of his band.

The Gavin family from Galway are renowned at home and abroad for their musical talents and performances of traditional Irish music.

gavin family

Noreen has been playing music since the age of 5 and teaching music in Connemara for over 30 years to two generations of musicians. She is a music examiner for the syllabus in Irish traditional music, SCT, run by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and has tutored music teachers in their Teastas i dTeagasc Ceolta Tíre (CCTT) program. She teaches master-classes in whistle at Scoil Éigse, adjudicates at Fleadh Ceoil na hÉireann, various provincial fleadhanna, féiseanna and at Oireachtas na Samhain. For a number of years, she taught whistle at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in France. Noreen gives regular workshops and recitals at music festivals in Ireland and overseas, including the Return to Camden Town Festival. In 2015, she had the honour to be named Musician-in-Residence at Scoil Acla. Noreen is an inspirational music teacher and firmly believes in passing on her skills to the next generation. She is an acknowledged master of the tin whistle and her talent, particularly on slow airs, is legendary. In February 2012, Noreen released a CD of carefully chosen, rare traditional tunes plus three of her own compositions, including the title track, The Quiet House, inspired by her grand-daughter, Sophie. At Fleadh Ceoil na hÉireannIn 2013 in Cavan, she won the gold medal for her newly composed tune Just like that.
Sean is a former All Ireland champion on the button accordion. He has toured extensively in Europe, America and Canada with De Danann and his brother, Frankie, the celebrated fiddle virtuoso and leader of De Danann. He was an invited guest at the St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Beijing and Hong Kong. In addition to numerous TV and radio appearances, he has also recorded a CD Fierce Traditional with Frankie and has guested with Noreen on her CD The Quiet House.

bantry tourism
Bantry Development & Tourism Association and the organisers of the Chief O'Neill Traditional Music Festival gratefully acknowledge the support of Cork County Council, Failté Ireland and IPB Insurance in staging the Festival

Bantry Events Calendar 2017

For details of events in Bantry throughout 2017 please see our sister web site Visit Bantry


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