Gathering aims for early high note at trad music festival


Dublin’s Temple Bar TradFest will be one of the early events of the Gathering. The music festival, which runs from January 22nd to 27th, was set up eight years ago to give a boost to the tourism trade at the quietest time of year.

On the theme of the Gathering, this year’s festival will feature traditional musicians from Atlantic Canada, London and New York.

A special Musical Gathering concert, A Stór Mo Chroí, will take place on January 22nd in Christ Church Cathedral

It will also feature a concert by one of the stalwarts of Ireland’s musical diaspora - Maura O’Connell.

Clare-born O’Connell was a big star in Ireland before she left for Tennessee 25 years ago and has forged a whole career for herself in the United States.

Two Grammy nominations and collaborations with stellar artists including Dolly Parton and Alison Krauss have seen her earn a place for herself among Ireland’s most prominent musical ambassadors abroad.

Asked about the criticism by actor Gabriel Byrne who described the Gathering as a “scam” and a “shakedown”, O’Connell said that she supports the initiative but she believes too that the organisers should be upfront about its real purpose.

“I’ve been saying this at gigs for year that our country is broke. ‘We’d love for you guys to come over’,” she said.

“The idea of bringing Irish people together is a bit of a high-minded notion, but I also believe the country needs it and it will be great if it is a success.

“It is a little bit disingenuous to call it the Gathering when we are pleading with people to come and bring their money with them.”

O’Connell will play a one-off concert in Christ Church Cathedral on January 24th.