FOR the fifth successive year Abbeyfeale is to be transformed into a landscape of ballads and balladeers for the annual Garry McMahon singing weekend.
The three-day festival, which will be hosted by the West Limerick Singing Club, will once again see warm tributes paid to the late Garry McMahon, renowned composer, song writer and son of famous Listowel writer Bryan McMahon.
This year’s event, which begins on November 1, will offer a pleasant mix of workshops, competitions and singing sessions. The festival was launched at The Ramble Inn in Abbeyfeale last Friday night.
Chris O’Shea, secretary of the event’s organising committee, said that the weekend has become an opportunity for the West Limerick Singing Club and its members to celebrate the traditional ballad.
“The aim of the club is to preserve and keep alive the traditional songs and stories from previous generations, songs composed by ordinary people, farmers, tradesmen and spalpeens. In recent years many of the younger performers have achieved great distinction and have won county, provincial and national awards at various Fleadh Cheoils.”
The festival will be officially opened by Tom McKenna, chairman of the singing club, at The Ramble Inn at 8pm on Friday, November 1, followed by singing sessions there and at Leens Hotel.
On Saturday, November 2 free workshops on traditional singing will take place from 10.30am at St Ita’s Hall hosted by Joe O’Connor and Seamus Brogan.
At 4pm the newly composed ballad competition will take place at The Ramble Inn. The ballad contest has become a popular addition to the programme in recent years, attracting entries from across Ireland. Singing sessions will again take place at The Ramble Inn and Leens from 9.30pm.
Sunday, November 3 begins with a performance of Aifreann na Riocht, which was written and arranged by Garry McMahon, at the Church of the Assumption at noon by the Abbeyfeale choir.
At 3pm at Fr Casey’s GAA club a special tribute event will be held in honour of Pat Brosnan, of Knocknagorna, Athea, who has composed hundreds of traditional poems and songs.
The weekend comes to a conclusion from 6.30pm with a farewell singing session at The Ramble Inn.