The very best of Folk & Trad at Ballyshannon Festival this weekend

The very best of Folk & Trad at Ballyshannon Festival this weekend

The legendary Ralph McTell takes to the stage on Saturday night.

The 39th annual Ballyshannon Folk and Traditional Music Festival is the place to be this August Bank Holiday Weekend.

One of Ireland's longest running festivals, this promises to be a great weekend for all the family.

Since its foundation in 1978, the folk festival has hosted all of the great names from the Irish folk and trad scene since the heady days of the late 1970s and continues today to offer itself as a vital platform for emerging folk and traditional music talent through the showcase competitions.

The festival kicks off at 7.30pm on Thursday in the Abbey Arts Centre with the launch of Barry Britton’s art exhibition, followed by a free concert with Donegal’s own Erdini. The annual barn dance in Dorrian's also takes place on Thursday night.

This year's fantastic line-up includes Ralph McTell, Kieran Goss & Frances Black, Buttons & Bows, Eleanor Shanley, Project West, The Ward Sisters and the recently crowned Ulster Fleadh Champions, the Blackwater Céili Band. There are also plenty of pub sessions, street entertainment, workshops and the annual showcase competition winners will also be taking to the stage in the Abbey Arts Centre.

The emphasis on Friday night will be on the music of County Leitrim, with the multi-award-winning Ward Sisters from Aughnasheelin, and Leitrim Person of the Year Eleanor Shanley hot on the heels of her success with her latest album, 'Forever Young'. Multiple All-Ireland champions The Blackwater Ceili Band round off the programme on Friday night.

The influential Buttons and Bows open Saturday night's programme, followed by one of the great storytellers, the legendary Ralph McTell. Known for his virtuoso guitar style, the prolific and gifted songwriter made his debut in 1968 with the album ‘Eight Frames a Second’ and in 1974 the release of ‘Streets of London’ earned him an Ivor Novello Award. In 1993, Nanci Griffith recorded ‘From Clare to Here’ on her Grammy Award-winning album and in 2002 he was presented with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Sunday night starts off with Belleek’s Aoife O’Reilly, who won the solo showcase competition. Then Frances Black and Kieran Goss take to the stage, following the success of their reunion tour in February. This year's festival draws to a close with Project West, eight sensational performers who have Irish traditional music, song and dance running through their veins. This dynamic young group have performed with likes of Bono, Ronnie Wood and Riverdance, and for heads of state all over the world.

All of this, plus fantastic street entertainment, vintage car and High Nelly rally, Fiddler in the Cave with Aidan O'Donnell, the history of the festival with Anthony Begley and storytelling with Ted Hall.

With all this and much more this will no doubt be another memorable festival weekend in Ballyshannon.

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