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Baltimore West Cork Festivals

The villages of West Cork love a party but Baltimore and the Islands have more festivals than anywhere else. So what better place than Casey's of Baltimore to get all the advice and information you need on things to do in West Cork and what each of the Baltimore and Islands festivals have to offer? There is plenty to be enjoyed, so whether its music, food, fishing, sailing, arts or literature, there is something for everyone and much to celebrate…as we look forward to 2014


Baltimore Fiddle Fair 2014 Programme



SCHEDULE UPDATE: The great John Sheahan, founder and last surviving member of The Dubliners, has been added to the line up! Check out Sunday 11 May 

Baltimore Fiddle Fair 2014

Thursday 8 May

 Fiddle Fair Marquee - 9:00pm  Aly Bain and Ale Möller

Friday 9 May  Fiddle Fair Marquee - 9:00pm  Cahalen Morrison and Eli West  Eddi Reader

Saturday 10 May  Castle Dún na Séad - 1:00pm  Tara Connaghan & Ronán Galvin  Glebe Gardens Amphitheatre - 3:00pm  Stephanie Coleman & Cleek Schrey  RANT  Fiddle Fair Marquee - 9:00pm  This Is How We Fly  The New Rope String Band

Sunday 11 May  Castle Dún na Séad - 1:00pm  John Sheahan with Eamon Keane  Glebe Gardens Amphitheatre - 3:00pm  Anna Lindblad & Ryan Drickey  Haas, Kowert, Tice  Fiddle Fair Marquee - 9:00pm  Alisdair Fraser & Natalie Haas with Mairead Ní Mhaonaigh  Dezi Donelly, Mike McGoldrick, John Joe Kelly & Damien O' Kane

We kick off on Thursday 8th with a very special candlelit concert at Dún na Séad Castle with Aly Bain and Ale Möller – Aly Bain is one of the world's best know fiddlers, hailing from Shetland, he has been at the forefront of the traditional scene in Scotland for over 40 years. He made a very memorable visit to the Fiddle Fair 3 years ago with the great Phil Cunningham but this time he is accompanied by the amazing Swedish multi-instrumentalist Ale Möller.

On Friday 9th at the Fiddle Fair Marquee we have two amazing acts from different sides of the globe but with an unusual common thread. First up from Seattle we are delighted to present Cahalen Morrison & Eli West. Ever since we heard this duo's debut album a few years ago we have wanted to bring them to the festival so we were thrilled when we heard that they were going to be around this part of the world in May. They have just released their 3rd album, produced by Fiddle Fair Autumn School maestro Tim O' Brien. Beautiful songs and amazing singers.

Just like our next act, the incredible Eddi Reader. Glasgow native Eddi is simply one of the best singers on the planet with the voice of an angel. She has been a unique and contemporary figure in British music for over 3 decades with an intuitive ability to transform any song or genre into her own. She is also great fun and her live shows are truly remarkable.

The unusual common thread with these two acts is that neither of them have a fiddle player in their regular line-up. Do not fret though because we have a couple of very able fiddler's standing by:)

There's certainly no lack of fiddlers on our Saturday May 10 menu. We start at 1pm in Dún na Séad when we present a fiddle duo from Southwest Donegal, Tara Connaghan & Ronán Galvin. Donegal is the spiritual home of Irish fiddle music where there seems to be a fiddle in every house. Tara and Ronán play music they learned from many of the older generation of fiddlers and ensure that the Donegal tradition is in good hands.

Then we move to Glebe Gardens Amphitheatre for a double bill featuring 2 fiddles and then 4 fiddles.

First up is the amazing 'old time' duo of Stephanie Coleman & Cleek Schrey from USA. Stephanie first played here in 2007 with the great Mick Daly, while she was studying in UCC for a year and then she brought Cleek with her a couple of years ago and they created quite the impression.

We follow this with the Irish premiere of new Scottish group RANT. 4 remarkable fiddlers have come together to create a beautiful sound and they are a band with a very bright future. Shetland sisters Jenna and Bethany Reid played here way back in 2003 with the group Filska, Lauren MacColl was here in 2005 and Sarah-Jane Summers was here in 2006 so they've all been here before but it is the very first time that we feature a group comprising of 4-fiddles only. Do not miss them!

On Saturday night May 10 at the marquee we present an eclectic double bill of two very special acts.

First up is the amazing group This Is How We Fly. Dublin fiddler Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh has been here many times and was the man who trained Jeremy Irons for his memorable Fiddle Fair appearance a few years ago. The incredible Michigan dancer Nic Gareiss has also been here a few times and all of those who attended his dance workshop in 2012 will never forget it (he might be persuaded to do another one). The other two members of this exciting group are Fiddle Fair virgins, Dublin jazzman Seán Mac Erlaine and lyrical Swedish percussionist Petter Berndalen. As you listen to This is How we Fly, you might find yourself raising delightful questions as to the place, potency and possibilities of old music in a new environment.

We follow this with another Irish premiere with English trio The New Rope String Band. Once seen, never forgotten: an indefinable confusion of superb musicianship and side-splitting comic genius, the New Rope String Band are truly unique entertainers. Elements of circus, clowning, vaudeville, slapstick and sheer inspired silliness are spliced with beautiful acoustic music from various world traditions. Expect the hilariously unexpected!

On Sunday May 11 at Castle Dún na Séad we present one of the true iconic figures of Irish music, John Sheahan.

Formed in 1962, The Dubliners were probably the most influential Irish folk band of the 20th century. They were instrumental in popularising Irish folk music in Europe and influenced many generations of Irish bands. John Sheehan is the last surviving member of the original line-up and we are honoured to welcome him to the Fiddle Fair.

Over the years John has gained recognition as a composer. Many of his compositions have strong characteristics of baroque music and several of these have been performed by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. It was a great compliment to his writing skills when André Rieu included John's composition "The Marino Waltz" on a recent album.

For this show John is accompanied Eamon Keane, Eamon is a well known journalist and broadcaster, an accomplished pianist, composer, and singer/songwriter. He recently composed the haunting score for Mná Dibeartha, the landmark series on the Famine. For today's show John and Eamon combine their talents in a kaleidoscope of music, song and poetry.

At 3pm we go back up to the stunning Glebe Gardens for another double bill of incredible musicians.

First up is the Swedish duo Anna Lindblad & Ryan Drickey. I heard Anna playing some savage late-night tunes at Celtic Connections this year with our great Foghorn friend Sammy Lind (he thinks they might be cousins from way back) and her music is a groovy mixture of traditional Swedish tunes and tunes from North America and Ireland. Ryan is a freelance violinist/fiddler and singer, known for his subtle and expressive touch.

We follow them with the amazing American trio Haas, Kowert, Tice.

Brittany Haas is one of the finest young fiddlers on the planet. She plays with about 3 million amazing bands including 'Crooked Still' and was here 6 years ago with 'Darol Anger's Republic of Strings'. Hailing from Annapolis Maryland, Jordan Tice is an innovative flatpicker and prolific composer of acoustic music. He released his debut recording of original music at the age of 17 on and has since released 2 more recordings of his music to rave reviews. He also plays in about 3 million bands. Paul Kowert grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. In 2009 he joined the incredible band 'The Punch Brothers' with whom he has released 2 albums. He also has recorded and played with 3 million bands and is truly one of the most original bassists working today. Together, Haas Tice Kowert have produced a body of work containing flights of improvisation and interesting compositional turns all grounded by memorable melodies and driving rhythms.

To round off proceedings we go back to the Fiddle Fair Marquee for two more amazing acts:

First up is Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas with Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh.

Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and Californian cellist Natalie Haas (Yes she's Brittany's sister) are one of the most sought after duo's at festivals around the world. We have wanted to bring them to Baltimore for a long long time and are delighted that they are finally here. We are even more delighted that they will be accompanied by the Queen of the Fiddle Fair herself, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh. Regular attendee's at our festival will know the special place we have in our hearts for Mairéad's band Altan. Quite simply our festival would not be where it is today without them and Mairéad is one of Ireland's greatest treasures – plus she's completely bonkers after a few pints:)

And then to finish things off we have some of our oldest and best Fiddle Fair friends, Dezi Donnelly, Mike McGoldrick, John Joe Kelly & Damien O' Kane. These Manchester boys need no introduction in these parts and have provided us with some magical memories over the past 2 decades. Dezi, Mike and John Joe have been coming here since they were in short trousers but Damien is earning his first cap.

As well as being unbelievable musicians they are also unbelievable party animals who will bring this year's Fiddle Fair to a rousing finale.

Since its humble beginnings in 1992 it has grown and developed to become perhaps Irelands best-loved small music festival and has a reputation for innovation and excellence that encourages many visitors to come back every year from UK, Europe, USA and from all over Ireland.  


The combination of the truly exceptional talent on show, along with the stunning setting of our concerts and the friendliness of the local community means that many visitors return each year to sample the unique delights of this festival.  


The Baltimore Fiddle Fair is a jewel in the crown of Irish festivals – taking place on the second weekend of May every year, it is looked upon as being the ‘kick start’ of the Irish festival season and the beginning of the Summer Season in Baltimore. 


As usual there'll be a selection of top class workshops and numerous sessions going on all weekend.



Baltimore Seafood & Wooden Boat Festival

On 23 – 25th May Homage is paid to the bounty of the sea during the annual Baltimore Seafood Festival. There is a variety of events including Music, Song & Irish Dancing in the Baltimore square and then the tradition of boatbuilding industry in Baltimore, Ireland, is remembered at the Wooden Boat Festival on the same weekend. 



O'Driscoll Clan & Midsummer Festival in Baltimore, West Cork

The facts and myths of the O'Driscoll clan are celebrated 27 – 29th June. The charming coastal village of Baltimore is situated on one of the most south-westerly points of Ireland, renowned for its attractive landscape, unspoiled coastlines and Carbery’s Hundred isles.   


The O’Driscolls having been having their annual Clan Gathering in this part of West Cork for the past twenty three years. Their name has long being associated with the area and in 1961 there was a one-off gathering attended by more than 400 people from around the world.  The gathering in its current format, held over the last weekend in June, has been held annually since 1986.  


The schedule for the clan gathering is organised as a festival known as the “O’ Driscoll Clan Mid Summer festival”, showcasing the area’s natural beauty and involving the local community. The festival has a full programme throughout the weekend. The registration of Clan members takes place in “Dun Na Sead” Castle followed by a talk on O’ Driscoll heritage by a local historian. There are boat trips to the nearby islands of Heir, Sherkin and Cape Clear as well as a trip around Carbery’s Hundred Isles. Back in Baltimore there is a lot of traditional Open Air music and dancing on the square each evening and on the last day (Sunday) the Chieftain addresses the Clan. A new chieftain is elected every two years and is chosen by the past chieftains along with the local committee that organises the clan gathering.     


On this day there is also entertainment and face painting for the children making it a real family day out?  


Actually, there is no Square in Baltimore, but in the Irish way, that’s what the Harbour front is referred to by the locals.    


The Clan Gathering, in many ways, is like a large Family Gathering. There’s that celebratory, party atmosphere of family and friends meeting up who don’t see each other too often, but who are aware of who’s who. There the exchange of stories about others not present this time. There’s a mix of ages. Some clan members bring their children with them. There’s singing, drinking, speeches, and dining.  


The “O” part of the surname was often dropped and the spelling of Driscoll changed by many O’ Driscolls once they had emigrated so even if you you are just plain Driscoll or one of its other versions  you will be welcomed into the clan. Everyone is considered a cousin.   


But why would you want to travel many miles – from Australia, Canada, England, Scotland, The United States and Wales to meet lots of people who have the same name as you but are not closely related. Many feel it like being part of an extended family all returning home (to their roots) to meet up with each other. Somewhere back along the line all of the O’ Driscolls originated in the area. They get to feel a part of the local community. A lot of those attending are back for the umpteenth time and intend continuing to return. Many build their annual holiday around the gathering.    


Baltimore itself has a permanent population of just over two hundred, although it grows every summer with visitors who cannot help but return and who are now very much part of local life.  


Fishing and the Sea have always played an important in the history and economy of the village. Many of the ruined castles standing sentinel on lonely headlands are the ancient homes of the piratical O’ Driscoll clan, who once held sway over a thousand square miles of south-west Ireland.  


Although the quiet harbour resemble the Aegean during the summer, in winter violent storms blast in from the Atlantic. However the harbour and village is protected from the worst of them by Carbery’s Hundred isles, including Sherkin Island and Cape Clear.   


Because of its maritime tradition, Baltimore is well known as one of the best places in the country for water-sports, including sailing, windsurfing, sea angling and diving. You can even learn how to do these while visiting.    


Spring arrives earlier here than almost anywhere else in Ireland, owing to our extreme southerly position and warming influence of the Gulf Stream. Sharp frosts are rare, snow almost unheard of, and as you will see from nearby gardens many shrubs grow well all year round and there is no month where you can’t find a flower somewhere for your enjoyment.   


Local wildlife, including a number of rare birds, also enjoy our mild climate. Out at sea, perhaps on the way to picnic on an uninhabited island you’ll often spot Seals sunning themselves on wave washed rocks or Whales and Dolphins following your boat. With plenty of restaurants and pubs in the village and nearby locality there is no shortage of places to eat and drink. With so much to offer in the locality there is no better place to come for a relaxing holiday.   


Baltimore Pirate Festival

20 June to 22nd June

Pirates of Baltimore:

The attack in June 1631 by Barbery corsairs was the worst-ever attack on the mainland of Ireland or Britain, also known as ‘the Sack of Baltimore’ - 107 slaves were taken and sold on the markets in Algiers. Recently an archaeological team discovered a pirate shipwreck, you can visit the pirate exhibit in Dún na Séad Castle and follow the history through the Heritage Walk, in books by local authors and artefacts & displays in local bars.

A weekend of events remembering in an entertaining and informative way one of the most remarkable events in Baltimore's colourful past – the attack by Algerian pirates in 1631 known as 'the Sack of Baltimore'. The festival includes attractions for all ages based around the theme of the Sack and the history of pirates and piracy.



Baltimore Regatta

There are races to be won at Sherkin Regatta, Baltimore Regatta (2 – 4th August).  


Of all the attractions that Baltimore offers, sailing is possibly the best known, but sailing in Baltimore doesn't just mean expensive off-shore cruises, crewed by visiting yachtsmen. At the core of the sport are the numerous dinghy sailors who find the harbour and the islands an unbeatable source of relaxation and fun.


The true delight of sailing in Baltimore is to visit some of the many islands which dot the waters of Roaringwater Bay. A beautiful summer's day; a picnic in one of the coves between Baltimore and Schull; a voyage to Cape Clear or Heir. Heavenly!  


If you're not a keen sailor, maybe try kayaking (sea or lake) or hire a boat with an engine to explore the harbour.    


Cape Clear Storytelling Festival

Stories are told on Cape Clear in September  


Baltimore West Cork Sea-angling Festival

There are fish to be caught during the Baltimore Sea-angling Festival Aug 21-24th 2014.

South West Ireland's longest-running deep sea angling competition is noted for exciting fishing and an atmosphere of friendly rivalry. It is open to all and usually attracts anglers from all over Ireland and abroad. A separate one-day shark fishing contest will be followed by a three-day bottom fishing competition for fish like conger, ling, pollack, cod, common skate, etc. Trophies and prizes will be presented at a prize-giving dinner on the last night. Anglers can enter for as many or as few days as they wish as there will also be daily cash prizes presented after fishing each day.
The fishing is catch-and-return with results determined on a points-per-fish basis so fish can be returned alive to the sea. In addition, sharks and skate caught will be tagged as part of the Central fisheries Board tagging programme for purposes of scientific research. The boats employed are all licensed and fully-equipped charter boats with qualified skippers.   



Baltimore Walking Weekend


Saturday 27 th September To be announced



Disclaimer: participants are responsible for their own safety. No responsibility can be accepted by landowners or by the event organisers and leaders / sweepers for any loss, damage or injury sustained during the walks.


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