Spirit of Folk’s new identity and the top ten acts to catch

The Spirit of Folk festival kicks off next weekend in Meath. Festival illustrator Dearbhla Kelly introduces the new look and suggests her top ten things not to miss

The Meath-based Spirit of Folk festival kicks off its fifth edition next week (18th-20th Sept) and the team behind it are busy on site, building what they hope will be their biggest and best yet.

A sellout last year, the Spirit of Folk is a fantastic antidote to the big-name festivals that have reigned supreme all summer.

Monaghan illustrator and Irish Times journalist Dearbhla Kelly has been designing their artwork since the beginning and this year is rolling out a whole new identity for the festival – the five Spirits of Folk: Nature, Music, Magic, Mischief and Curiosity.

Expect to find them popping up in surprising places on site next weekend, but in the meantime, since she’s so close to the event, we asked Kelly to give us the top ten things she'll be doing at this year's festival.


With its relaxed bring-your-own-beer attitude, it puts great music, new age flavours, story-telling and theatre centre stage. With Mick Flannery headlining and the Bunoscionn GAA disco taking pride of place just after his set on Saturday night you’re guaranteed a great weekend of music and with the Saturday night Hall of Heroes party rolling on until 6am last year there’s big ambitions ahead. It’s also one of the most family-friendly festivals around so make sure and pack the kids.

(Insider's ticket tip: Buy a Saturday day ticket for €40 and it comes with camping for Saturday night. 12-18 year olds €20. Under 12s free. Fri/Sat weekend camping tickets €70/€35/Free)

You can download a copy of the full programme here or at spiritoffolk.com

Dearbhla Kelly’s top ten:


| Friday 20:30 | Main Stage

A great new earthy folk band. Moody, edgy and young with a twitchy lead singer that really shouldn’t be missed.

Blood Red Mountain Band |

Friday, 22:30 | Main Stage

Try not to want to hear this: “Moonshine for your ears . . . Bar-brawlin’ blisterin’ hoedowns. Honest to goodness bluegrass love songs. All constructed from the finest country sunsets, broken hearts, and lost highways hidin’ the burnt-out shells of journeys long forgotten...”

Home Fries

| Main Field

(Not an act, I know, but deserves top billing) Already a big hit at EP this year, this adorable food stand will be one of the culinary highlights. Expect the finest, freshest baby potatoes sautéed and seasoned in their huge paella pan.

Falconry | Saturday all day | Spirit Field
Two years ago I got to hold an owl - I just want to relive this moment forever. Wonderful chance to get up close and personal with the bird of your choice. (Within reason).

Laughter Yoga | Saturday, 10am | Soul Seminars tent
Surprising hit at last year's event – full of cynical people who just can't stop laughing. Works despite all your reservations – an emotional workout that may have you crying between all the laughs. Truly refreshing.

Pop up Theatre | Saturday, 15:00/Sunday, 11:00 | Spirit Field
Actors bring the legend of the Children of Lir to life in the woods around the Spirit Field. The audience follow and join in even when they don't expect to. Wonderful family event.

The Irish Times Book Club | Saturday 17:00 | Hall of Heroes
A new entry this year, bestselling writer Nuala O'Connor (Ní Chonchuir) will be in the spotlight discussing her latest book, Miss Emily, with Book Club host Gary Quinn and two book club readers. Miss Emily is based on the imagined relationship between Emily Dickenson and her Irish maid. Audience participation encouraged and comes with loads of tips for aspiring writers.

The Comic Jam | Saturday, 18:30 | Hall of Heroes
Another new entry this year and holding court in the Hall of Heroes, this is an illustrator's dream event. One person starts to draw a comic panel, passes it on to the next artist and hilarity ensues. Essentially a game of comic whispers. Spinoff of the Comic Jam and Comic Lab in Dublin.

Eddie Lenihan | Saturday, 8pm | The Cairn
One of Ireland's finest storytellers, who could quite simply make you believe in magic – amazing and a great chance to experience the underground cairn. Specially built to transport you to a whole other realm, it's usually candlelit and stuffed with atmosphere. Think hobbits and hogwarts. Fun for all.

Bunoscionn GAA Disco | Saturday, 22:30 | Main Stage
Trad covers of 1990s hits . This is a really fun trad session that takes over once all the bands have finished on Saturday night. The unofficial closing ceili.