Why Boris Johnson should dance a Sliabh Luachra set
Sliabh Luachra is a place without borders, says Cork Folk Festival organiser
Ellie Shine, who will perform at the Cork Folk Festival, alongside her father Noel Shine, who played at the first Festival in 1979, at The Corner House. Photograph: Darragh Kane
“If only we could get Boris Johnson to dance a Sliabh Luachra set, it might sort out this whole Brexit mess because he would quickly realise that Sliabh Luachra is not just a state of mind, it’s also place without borders.”
Cork Folk Festival co-director, Hammy Hammond is in mischievous mood as he prepares for this year’s 40th edition of the festival which pays tributes to one of its founders, the late Timmy “the Brit” McCarthy who championed the joy of sets.
“Timmy was born in London to Cork parents and when he came back to live in Cork, he discovered the sets of Sliabh Luachra, which spans north Cork, east Kerry and west Limerick, but really is a place without any borders,” said Hammy.
“Having discovered the sets of Sliabh Luachra in the 1980s, Timmy travelled rural Ireland in search of those nearly forgotten dances, which he learned and shared with his students, at home and abroad, with love, lore and passion.”
Hammy said that although Timmy, who died in 2018, hadn’t taken an active part in running the Cork Folk Festival in recent years, he was always regarded as the festival’s spiritual director by the committee.
“We are delighted to dedicate this year’s Cork Folk Festival to Timmy, as we celebrate 40 years of the very best in Irish and international traditional music, song and dance. So bring your dancing shoes – there are sets to be danced.”
According to Hammy, more than 20,000 folk music enthusiasts will attend the 40th Cork Folk Festival which runs from Thursday October 3rd until Sunday October 6th with close to 250 artists featuring in more than 50 free and ticketed events across Cork city.
The festival kicks off on Thursday with a diverse range of concerts including Greenshine & Granny’s Attic at An Spailpín Fánach, The Diviners & Dragonhead at The Roundy, and the Céilí Mór at the Douglas GAA Club.
On Friday, The Oliver Plunkett Bar will feature a traditional concert with Karan Casey, Niall Vallely, Niamh Dunne, Sean Óg Graham, Steve Turner, Conal Ó Gráda, Máire Ní Ghráda and Tomás Dunne, revealed Hammy.
“And we’re delighted to have Andy Irvine who has been a great friend to the festival over the years back again this year when he will perform in the Triskel Christchurch on Friday night,” he said.
Among the other artists scheduled to perform are Scottish singer-songwriter, Dougie MacLean, who wrote the song Caledonia, and Cork singer-songwriter Ger Wolfe who play in Triskel Christchurch on Saturday.
Also appearing are English folk singer, Martin Carthy and his daughter Eliza, who will take to the stage in An Spailpin Fanach which will also host performances by Siobhán Peoples, Blackie O’Connell and Yvonne Casey.
Among events dedicated to the memory of Timmy the Brit, Eoin “Stan” O’Sullivan, Bryan O’Leary, Niamh Ní Charra, Matt Cranitch, Jackie Daly and Liz Doherty will celebrate the music of Sliabh Luachra in the Kino on Friday.
“We also have Dancing Tribute to Timmy in the Kino on Saturday when people can learn the reel, polka and Sliabh Luachra sets with the Club Ceoil Set Dancers – that might be the one to invite Boris to – if he’s not too busy with Brexit!”