Weekend of music and culture in Ballycastle

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Ballycastle is preparing to play host to a very special weekend of music and culture in honour of the much-loved musician, John Kennedy, in recognition of his work to promote the traditional music across the community in his native Co. Antrim.

The weekend, which is being organised by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, will include a programme of events which reflect the “Bard of Cullybackey’s” love of traditional music in Ulster, including workshops in local schools, taster events for all ages, as well as a talk on the role played by members of the Protestant community in preserving, performing and teaching Irish traditional music.

Born in Cullybackey, Kennedy learnt his craft in marching bands, building his repertoire of fifing tunes, but also learning traditional Irish jigs and reels that he picked up from listening to the radio.

From playing in bands for 12th July celebrations to competing in the All Ireland Fleadh, John’s ability to transcend traditional cultural differences has made him a real pioneer in bringing people together through music.

Event organiser Catherine Sands said: “Comhaltas are delighted to be able to pay tribute to a man who has done more for Irish traditional music than most, not only through sharing his incredible talent as an accomplished musician in tin whistle, flute, fiddle, accordion as well as singing, but in bringing music to thousands of young people across the religious divide over decades.

“We hope that this event will enable people of all backgrounds to get involved and enjoy the rich musical heritage that is unique to Ulster, and show our thanks to John for the work he has done over the years to promote it.”

Highlights of the weekend

Corrymeela Peace & Reconciliation Centre will play host to a talk on the important role played by the Protestant community in saving much of today’s repertoire of Irish traditional music from extinction, as well as a traditional music taster session led by CEOL Project Officer Seán Ó Roideáin, which will begin at 4pm on Friday 24th March.

Saturday will see music workshops in flute, harp, fiddle, concertina, uilleann pipes and singing take place at St. Patrick’s & St Bridget’s Primary school. Saturday will also see a presentation to John Kennedy and a concert led by the workshop tutors featuring James McCaffrey, Aaron O’Hagan, Yvonne Bolton, Amy McAllister, Tricia Hutton, Teresa Clarke and Máiréad Walls. The presentation and concert will take place at the Ramoan Parish Centre. These events are free to the public.

There will also be traditional music and singing sessions during the weekend with the House of McDonnell and Central Bar playing host.

The John Kennedy weekend is supported by The Executive Office, the Arts Council NI Lottery and by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann through its Meitheal and C.E.O.L. Programmes.

For information on the event can be found by contacting Catherine on 075304 98919 or Michael on: 07871744110, or check out: ceol@dunuladh.ie