Trad veterans to kick off 10th anniversary Ballincollig fest

Ahead of the Ballincollig Winter Music Festival RONAN LEONARD talks to Lisa O'Neill about their plans for a 'song circle'
Trad veterans to kick off 10th anniversary Ballincollig fest
Lisa O'Neill

The Ballincollig Winter Music Festival has developed over the last 10 years into a five- day festival with bands of impeccable quality, featuring international and national acts. This year’s edition opens with a much-anticipated concert by The Delines on January 23; and on January 25 there will be a Tenth Anniversary Celebration Concert featuring Lisa O’Neill, Andy Irvine, Dónal Lunny and Paddy Glackin.

As opposed to the musicians playing one set after another, they will instead perform as a ‘song circle’, where all four musicians will remain on the stage and will take turns performing a song.

While they are a relatively unorthodox scenario, O’Neill has some experience of playing in them already, “I’ve taken part in two song circles before. One was at Port Fairy Folk Festival in Australia and the other was at Vancouver Folk Festival. They were both interesting experiences. I was privileged to share the circle in Vancouver with Martha Wainwright and I discovered other great performers that day. In response to hearing the other singer’s performances I found myself thinking of songs I haven’t sung in years.”

With that in mind O’Neill is preparing for the concert a bit differently. “This will take a different shape to other gigs so it will have an impact on what I decide to sing. I’m guessing my ideas might change as the show moves along. I’ve always loved traditional songs. Some of them are so thoughtfully written and sung. Some of the old songs are very wise. Most of what I’ve written is open for selection but I think it’s safe to say there are a few songs from my early writing that I probably will never sing again. ”

Considering the other three musicians on the bill have played on some of the most lauded Irish folk albums over the last 50 years, O’Neill recognises the challenge of the concert. 

“Andy, Paddy and Donal are all inspiring musicians and lovely men to meet. To be honest, I feel I’ll be out of my depth a little in sharing the stage with them. Still, I’m looking forward to it very much. I opened up for Andy Irvine before. He’s been a great inspiration over the years.”

The Tenth Anniversary Celebration Concert featuring Lisa O’Neill, Andy Irvine, Dónal Lunny & Paddy Glackin will play The White Horse, Ballincollig, on January 25. www.wintermusicfestival.ie for tickets.

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