FOR the first time ever a Scottish Gaelic group of musicians and singers will be playing and singing in Scottish Gaelic at the opening concert of the Ulster Fleadh on Tuesday, July 24 in the Benedy Hall, Dungiven.
The Ulster Fleadh is a celebration of Irish traditional arts – music, song and dance and the inclusion of Scottish Gaelic at the opening concert is a clue to why this is no ordinary Fleadh and the start of something unique in the town of Dungiven admist the Sperrin Mountains.
The Fleadh will be the largest traditional music festival this summer with up to 25,000 spectators and the organising committee has based the theme of their Fleadh around the story of a local legend of the 15th century marriage of Finvola and her 24 brothers from the O’Cathains of the Roe Valley
to the son and daughters of the MacDonnells, Lord of the Isles from Islay, Scotland. Therefore, the organising committee of the Ulster Fleadh is delighted to announce that“Siar” a Scottish Gaelic group from Islay in the Western Isles of Scotland is a headline act for the opening concert of the Ulster Fleadh 2012.
Pictured above whilst being filmed for BBC Alba is the Islay traditional musicians group consisting of Ellen McGregor, Ciara McTaggart and Clare Jordon. The trio will be playing a multitude of instruments including Scottish Harp, Keyboard, Accordion, Tin Whistle, Flute and Fiddle. Clare Jordon who will be singing in Scottish Gaelic said that they are honoured to be invited to perform at the Ulster Fleadh 2012.
A spokesperson for the Ulster Fleadh said that it is no coincidence that a group from Islay was invited. He said that it was to this island just north of the mouth of Lough Foyle that Finvola went to live and it was from there that her body was eventually returned to be buried at the Priory in Dungiven. The life story of Finvola is one of love, tragedy and reconciliation and this theme is woven through many of the events at this year’s Ulster Fleadh.
The location of the concert is also significant as the organising committee has chosen the Benedy Community Hall at the head of the Benedy Glen. This is one of Dungivens’ hidden treasures as Benedy Glen is a vast area of largely unspoilt ancient woodland of oak and ash with the salmon running in the River Roe which meanders through the glen. This is a landscape that Finvola would have recognised with many of the landmarks and names still there as the glen has a splattering of ancient ring forts, burial cairns and standing stones. The river ford is still in operation for people to
walk or drive across the River Roe into the Benedy Glen.
Also performing at the opening concert is Dungiven Comhaltas singing traditional Irish songs from Ulster in English and Irish with Irish Harpists performing a range of traditional music. A spokesperson for the Ulster Fleadh said that this concert and Fleadh is hugely significant and highly symbolic for the people of Dungiven and the Roe Valley as after hundreds of years they are reawakening and reigniting their historic and cultural links with Islay. The opening concert is a taste of what is to come in this unique Ulster Fleadh and early booking is recommended. Tickets for this
concert are on sale at Cathal’s Flowers, Main Street, Dungiven or by telephoning Briege Carton on 077 196 776 07 or on 028 7774 1279.