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Traditional music week in Letterkenny, Donegal ends in a high note

Facing some of the worst winter weather to hit northwest Ireland in many years, the inaugural ‘Letterkenny Trad Week’ in Donegal ended on a high note this weekend with a capacity audience at the town’s Regional Cultural Centre (RCC) enjoying two of the nation’s finest folk singers.

Featuring a spirited and playful Nashville-based Grammy nominee Maura O’Connell, formerly with DeDanaan, and Karan Casey, who fronted for Solas and has released six solo albums, the songs – in Gaeilge, English and even Spanish – ran the gamut of emotions from sad and poignant to top-tapping lively and light-hearted. They also traipsed across musical genres, with jazz, blues and old-time music hall tossed in for good measure.

And that was just the singing part.

Equally wonderful was the music of Dublin-based Martin Tourish on accordion, whose latest album is entitled “Under a Red Sky,’ and Bath-based guitarist, Ed Boyd, a founding member of folk group, Flook. So smooth and nimble was Tourish’s playing of the Brazilian choro tune, ‘Tico- Tico no Fubá’ composed by Zequinha de Abreu, it was like watching fingers dancing on ice.

The week-long feast of traditional music also hosted the recently-formed Usher’s Island with includes Irish folk veterans Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny and Sea Road Sessions, a Swedish-Scottish-Irish six-piece band. Organised by venue co-ordinators, Shaun Hannigan, director of the RCC, and Patricia McBride, director of An Grianan Theatre, the festival was supported by Traolach O’Fionnan, arts officer within the Donegal County Council, the Arts Council and Music Network.

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