Tradfest 2018 puts female artists centre stage

Tradfest 2018: Everything you need to know - it promises an eclectic mix, with performances from Martha Wainwright, Shirley Collins, Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill and many more

Taking as its starting point an all-embracing notion of traditional music, Temple Bar Tradfest has captured the zeitgeist this year, whether by accident or design, with a programme dominated by an eclectic mix of female artists. Alongside some of those women who form the backbone of our own tradition: Maighread and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, Laoise Kelly and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, are women who work in duo settings (Caitlín Nic Gabhann with Ciarán Ó Maonaigh, Máire Ní Chathasaidh and Chris Newman).

Widening their embrace to artists from across the water, Tradfest is luring English folk legends, Shirley Collins and Judy Collins to perform in St Michan's Church and St Patrick's Cathedral respectively. Both women epitomise that resilient, independent spirit that inhabits songs and stories of love, lust, loss and survival with equal parts grace and danger.

Casting the net wider still, Tradfest is hosting Wallis Bird, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Martha Wainwright, all singer/songwriters who've steadfastly cleaved to their own independent paths, with scant regard for the passing whims and traitorous affections of the music trade.

And with a gaze trained further still, there's the delicious prospect of hearing Shelby Lynne and Alison Moorer live (a treat for fans who take their alt country with a tincture of Dusty Springfield betimes). These multiple Grammy and Oscar-award winning sisters share a bill with the American acoustic roots and blues duo of Martin Harley and Daniel Kimbro, along with Irish bluegrass combo I Draw Slow.


The presence of Breton harpist and singer Alan Stivell will be welcomed by many who were drawn to his innovative melding of traditional and ambient sounds, not to mention his bold championing of "Celtic" music, long before it was either popular or profitable.

Cutting edge

Lest anyone suspect that Tradfest is overly reliant on established names with comfortable and familiar repertoires, there's a healthy mix of cutting edge artists in the offerings too. The buoyancy of the four piece This Is How We Fly is a celebration of the ways in which percussive dance (courtesy of Nic Gareiss) interacts with jazz-tinged musings of Seán MacErlaine, as well as with the spacious fiddle lines of Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and the spiky rhythms of Swedish percussionist, Petter Berndalen. And then there's the sublime piping of David Power who saddles up alongside harpist Tríona Marshall for what promises to be a divinely curated set, such is the pair's individual and collective reputation for attentive musicianship.

There's a particularly enticing gathering of three female solo musicians at teatime on Sunday evening, with Ciara Sidine, Karrie and Ailbhe Reddy programmed under the collective moniker of The New Folk in St Werburgh's Church. These are women who've been steadily forging their own musical identities, openly acknowledging and embracing the influence of Gillian Welch, Maria McKee, Joni Mitchell and Tom Waits. This just might be one of the standout concerts of Tradfest.

Church settings

Tradfest has become an annual gathering that rises many out of the doldrums of late January, shedding skeins of light where they’re badly needed. The scale of the event demands the use of large venues within the ambit of Temple Bar, though their reliance on so many church settings is a deterrent for some punters who find the formality and discomfort of a church pew at odds with the warmth and charisma of the music.

At its heart, this music is rooted in dance, so who better to reconnect us with this essence than Séamus Begley, and English guitarist and composer, Tim Edey. Music to stir hearts, souls and pelvises in need of some down home swivelling – and to herald in the spring.

Tradfest 2018: what’s on

Thursday, Jan 25th

  • 10am-5.30pm   Relief – Exhibition, Graphic Studio Gallery
  • 1.00pm   Tara Breen, Dublin City Hall
  • 6.00pm   IMRO Conference, Copyright House
  • 6.00pm   The Dublin Legends, The Arlington O'Connell Street
  • 6.00pm   The Fureys, Porterhouse
  • 6.00pm   JP & The Seeger Sessions Band, Buskers
  • 6.00pm   The Kilkennys, The Oliver St. John Gogarty Library Bar
  • 6.00pm   Stockton's Wing, Merchant's Arch
  • 6.30pm   Arena Live from House of Lords
  • 8.00pm   Chris Newman & Máire Ní Chathasaigh/Caitlín Nic Gabhann & Ciarán Ó Maonaigh, Dublin City Hall
  • 8.30pm   Maighread & Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill/Andy Irvine & Donal Lunny, St Patrick's Cathedral
  • 8.30pm    Jack O'Rourke / Sound of the Sirens, St. Werburgh's Church
  • 8.30pm   The 4 of Us, Whelans
  • 8.30pm   Jarlath Henderson Band, St. Michan's Church
  • 10.30pm    Live at the Hub: Sonnets & Sisters, The Old Storehouse (downstairs), Crown Alley
  • 11.20pm    Live at the Hub: Junior Brother, The Old Storehouse (downstairs), Crown Alley
  • 12.10am    Live at the Hub: Boxing Banjo, The Old Storehouse (downstairs), Crown Alley

Friday, Jan 26th

  • 10am-5.30pm   Relief – Exhibition, Graphic Studio Gallery
  • 1.00pm    David Power & Triona Marshall, Dublin City Hall
  • 3.00pm   Testing the Links, The Irish Family History Centre
  • 6.00pm   The Dublin Legends, The Oliver St. John Gogarty Library Bar
  • 6.00pm   The Fureys, Fitzsimons
  • 6.00pm   JP & The Seeger Sessions Band, The Mint Bar, Westin Hotel
  • 6.00pm   The Kilkennys, The Auld Dubliner
  • 6.00pm   Stockton's Wing, The Temple Bar
  • 6.00pm   Frankenstein Bolts, Graphic Studio Gallery
  • 8.00pm   Pierre Bensusan, Dublin City Hall
  • 8.30pm   Judy Collins, St. Patrick's Cathedral
  • 8.30pm   Kaia Kater, St. Werburgh's Church
  • 8.30pm   Dhol Foundation,  Whelans
  • 8.30pm   Steve Wickham, St. Michan's Church
  • 8.30pm   Alan Stivell, Dublin Castle-Print Works
  • 10.30pm   Live at the Hub: LemonCello, The Old Storehouse (downstairs), Crown Alley
  • 11.20pm   Live at Hub: Kern, The Old Storehouse (downstairs), Crown Alley
  • 12.10am   Live at Hub: Strung, The Old Storehouse (downstairs), Crown Alley

Saturday, Jan 27th

  • 10.30am   The Story and the Song: Songwriting Masterclass, Irish Writers Centre
  • 11.00am   GENEius Shorts: Hum, Drum and Heritage, Irish Family History Centre
  • 11am-5pm   Relief – Exhibition, Graphic Studio Gallery
  • 12pm   Family Concerts, Dublin Castle
  • 12pm-4pm    Childvision Farm, Temple Bar Sq
  • 12 & 3.30pm    Clew Bay Pipe Band, on the streets of Temple Bar
  • 12pm-5pm    Céilí Fun, National Wax Museum Plus
  • 1.00pm   Laoise Kelly, St. Werburgh's Church
  • 2.00pm   Live Print Demonstration, Graphic Studio Gallery
  • 4.00pm   Brian Kennedy, Rathfarnham Castle
  • 4.00pm   Documentary Screening: Noel Hill – Aisling Ghéar, Irish Film Institute (IFI)
  • 8.30pm   From The Front, Rathfarnham Castle
  • 8.30pm   Martha Wainwright, St. Patrick's Cathedral
  • 8.30pm   Maria Doyle Kennedy, St. Werburgh's Church
  • 8.30pm   The Oh Hello's, Whelans
  • 8.30pm   Shirley Collins, St. Michan's Church
  • 8.30pm   Trad Gala – Téada with Séamus Begley, Blazin' Fiddles & Frankie Gavin, Dublin Castle-Print Works

Sunday, Jan 28th

  • Noon  Family Concerts, Dublin Castle
  • Noon-4pm    Childvision Farm, Temple Bar Sq
  • Noon & 3.30pm    Clew Bay Pipe Band, on the streets of Temple Bar
  • Noon-5pm   Céilí Fun, National Wax Museum Plus
  • Noon-4pm   Relief – Exhibition, Graphic Studio Gallery
  • 1.00pm   Tim Edey, St. Werburgh's Church
  • 1-6pm   Exhibit: Krass Clement – The Light Gleams an Instant, Gallery of Photography
  • 2.30pm   Genealogy Workshop – Connect to explore your Irish roots, Irish Family History Centre
  • 4.00pm   Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Rathfarnham Castle
  • 4.00pm   The Fureys, The Old Storehouse
  • 4.00pm   In Tua Nua, The Oliver St. John Gogarty Library Bar
  • 4.00pm   The Kilkennys, The Palace
  • 4.00pm   Paddy Casey, The Oak
  • 4.00pm   Stockton's Wing, The Norseman
  • 4.30pm   The Secret Song Circle Na Seisiún Rúnda, Aoife Scott, St Patrick's Cathedral
  • 6.00pm   The New Folk – Ailbhe Reddy, Ciara Sidine & Karrie, St. Werburgh's Church
  • 8.30pm   This is How We Fly, St. Michan's Church
  • 8.30pm   Folk Gala – Shelby Lynn & Allison Moorer, Martin Harley & Daniel Kimbro, I Draw Slow, Dublin Castle – Print Works


  • Mon 1st – Wed 31st January   IFI & TradFest Present Archive At Lunchtime, IFI  (see )
  • Exhibit: Krass Clement – the Light Gleams an Instant, Gallery of Photography