Back to the Eighties and bang up to now

TradFest line-up: main photo, Lisa Lamb and Stockton’s Wing and Emma Longford

It will be back to the Eighties and right up to the moment as some of Ireland’s longest standing trad acts and some of the newest, rising stars make up the headline acts for this year’s 10-year anniversary running of Kilkenny Tradfest. Among the royalty of Irish trad and folk are Stockton’s Wing, Scullion and local heroes Reel to Reel, while the coming generation see Lisa Lambe, Emma Langford and the Southeast’s new stars Tulua rise to prominence.

While the Marble City will witness more than 90 free unplugged music sessions in the city’s pubs and hotels in the growing Bulmers Music Trail, a dozen headline acts will perform in the city’s best venues.

Beginning on Wednesday, March 15 with the first of the Bulmer’s Music Trail sessions in pubs across the city. The headline action will really kick off with Emma Langford in Cleere’s Theatre on Thursday, March 16 and will finish on Sunday the 19th with young box player Eva Coyle as well as the ever popular Lisa Hannigan in The Set Theatre.

In between, the music fans of the seventies and eighties can dance the night away to the legendary Stockton’s Wing in Hotel Kilkenny, can sing their hearts out with Scullion in the Watergate Theatre and can dance up a storm with the Banner County’s most famous céilí bands. In the words of the legendary Christy Moore, “There’s ‘The Tulla and the Kilfenora’, with the former coming to the festival for the first time ever, in what promises to be a mega-céilí in the River Court Hotel.

The sedate world of the early harp music with Siobhán Armstrong in Rothe House and rollicking gigs with the returning Bonnymen in Billy Byrnes and the youthful exuberance of Tulua, in two separate Free headline gigs in Pat Crotty’s Paris Texas.

Pat Crotty, Tradfest committee member and Chairperson of Kilkenny Tourism, said that the quality of the headline acts speaks for itself:

“From our first Tradfest in 2013, we have always prioritised giving our local and visiting audiences a chance to see the leading stars of trad and folk. Some of the headliners this year are back for their second or third time, proving their popularity with their fans. Some others are coming to us for the first time.

“We look forward to the younger generation discovering the vibrancy of Stockton’s Wing that had audiences singing and dancing to one of the truly legendary bands of the eighties and nineties, while multiple award-winning women, Lisa Lambe and Emma Langford bring very exciting and cutting-edge performances to our city,” he said.

“Lisa’s appearance in St. Canice’s Cathedral promises to be particularly special and will focus on the centuries-old traditions of the passing on and sharing of all that makes our music, song, dance and storytelling so truly unique.

“On St Patrick’s day itself, our local legends, Reel to Reel, themselves heavily influenced by Stockton’s Wing, Scullion and Moving Hearts, will entertain the crowds on the festival stage on Lower Patrick Street, while we hope that people can chose to celebrate the Irish Six Nations win on Saturday with a choice of the Bonnymen, Scullion or the Tulla’s céilí band exuberance,” Mr Crotty said.

Kilkenny City Vintners Chairperson Anthony Morrisson believess that Kilkenny will be the place to be on the patron saint’s bank holiday weekend.

“From our multicultural and community celebration of our national day on the streets of our medieval city, right through to getting to see the clash of Kilkenny and Waterford on Sunday, March 19 in Nowlan Park, while surrounded by the best traditional music available in the country that weekend, we hope to see the city alive and kicking on the long weekend.

“We urge people to buy their tickets early to avoid disappointment and to join in all the fun of celebrating what has now become one of Ireland’s leading music festivals,” he said.

* Tickets for all the paid events are now available on

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