Lisdoonvarna Folk Festival is reborn

Lisdoonvarna Folk Festival is reborn


Crowds at the Lisdoonvarna Folk Festival. Pic: Michael John Glynne
Crowds at the Lisdoonvarna Folk Festival – Pic: Michael John Glynne

After a gap of over 33 years, the Lisdoonvarna Folk festival is set to make a comeback.

The popular festival, which ran for 6 years in the late 70’s and early 80’s, is being relaunched this weekend and organiser Peter Curtin who is hopeful it will be the first of many more to come.

The two day event will be staged in the Burren Store house in Lisdoonvarna a couple of miles away from the original festival, which at its peak attracted over 40,000 people. The idea to bring back the folk festival isn’t new – an attempt by music promoters Jim Shannon and Paddy Doherty in association with Aitken Promotions was made in 2003 but objections from locals, meant it had to be cancelled.

“There’s been a lot of talk over the years about bringing the folk festival back to Lisdoonvarna, but it never happened.  I wanted to make a statement, that we have top class musicians here in Clare, that we can stage a folk festival, without bringing artists in from elsewhere. This is a chance to bring the music back to the people, without it costing an arm and a leg,” said Peter Curtin, owner of the Burren Store House.

“So many people will have fond memories of the original Lisdoonvarna folk festival.  Back then, it was the most famous music festival in Ireland and was even compared to Glastonbury. This event will be on a smaller scale but in time we hope to grow it and broaden its appeal.”

Lisdoonvarna Folk Festival Poster

The event kicks off in the Burren Store House on Saturday night at 6pm, starting with music from ‘The Reel Time Rockers’, the ‘Doolin Ceili Band’, ‘John Talty and John Blake’. They will be followed by the headline act, Ireland’s finest folk singer Sean Tyrell and his Guests.  On Sunday evening, music will get underway again at 6pm with ‘Out the Gap’, ‘Ceol na Mara’, ‘The Same Evans band’ and the closing act of the festival will be a dynamic performance by local traditional band, ‘The Fiddle Case’.

During its short run, over 150 acts performed at the original event including legends such as The Fureys, Paul Brady, Rory Gallagher, Van Morrison, Ralph McTell, UB40, Clannad, De Dannan, Stocktons Wing, Paxnty.  It was during this time that Christy Moore, wrote his well-known song, ‘Lisdoonvarna’ in honour of the event.

In 1979 RTÉ News visited the Lisdoonvarna Folk Festival. See report here.

“Although I didn’t attend the festival, I remember the atmosphere in the town very well. The build up to the festival was huge, it started about 2 weeks before with people setting up stage, lighting, sound etc. There was a huge buzz the week before and several days after,” he said

“I am sure this event will evoke many memories for people and a feeling of nostalgia for those years. We are asking people to bring any memorabilia from the original festivals with them. This could include photos, posters T shirts etc.  We will give prizes to the best items.”

“It will be an opportunity for people to meet and share stories about the original festivals and will also introduce a younger generation to the great folk tradition we have here in Clare.” he added.

Tickets for the event are €10.00 per night and are available from the Burren Store House in Lisdoonvarna.