The Best Traditional Irish Music Schools & Festivals for Summer 2019

    High summer in Ireland and around the world brings with it an explosion of traditional Irish music workshops, concerts, schools and festivals. Here’s a round up of the ones I’ll be attending and others I wish I could! For a full list of national and international traditional Irish music festivals from June until September, courtesy of Irish Music Magazine, scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post.

    Craiceann Bodhrán Summer School 24th June to the 28th June

    The only festival truly dedicated to the bodhrán takes place every year in Inis Oírr and is the brainchild of Mícheál Ó hÁlmháin, himself a bodhrán tutor and player. The legendary Dónal Lunny will also be in attendance along with some superb bodhrán tutors including Robbie Walsh, Cormac Byrne and Siobhán O’Donnell. Inis Oírr or Inisheer is the smallest of the Aran Islands and some might argue the most beautiful. I can’t think of a lovelier setting for mass bodhrán playing! To register or find out more, click here:

    Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy, also known as Willie Clancy Week, 6th July to the 14th July

    I try to get to this every year and I’ve nearly managed an unbroken attendance record, this year will be no exception! A week long festival in Co. Clare, it is, for many the highlight of their year’s musical calendar. Named after traditional Irish music legend and piper, Willie Clancy, the week brings together many of the who’s who of the traditional Irish music world and learners of all ages and abilities. Running from 6th July to the 14th July 2019 in the town Miltown Malbay, expect to find sessions breaking out in every corner of every pub, on the street and God knows where else! There are so many amazing musicians performing, lecturing and teaching here that I honestly have no space to mention all of them so the best thing for you to do is to check out the full programme on the website.

    Check out this Street Session from Willie Week in 2018 featuring James Keane on accordion and Antóin Mac Gabhann on fiddle.

    Catskills Irish Arts Week July 14th – July 20th

    I know Mary Bergin is hopping over from Willie Week in Co. Clare to be at this festival along with other greats in the field of Irish music including Joannie Madden and Cherish the Ladies, Cormac Begley, The Mulcahy Family and plenty more. Taking place in East Durham in New York State there will be performances, workshops, and céilís – if you’ve never been to a céilí before, make it your business to go to one asap. They are the best fun and don’t require too much knowledge of the dance steps beforehand as there is invariably a céilí caller who’ll walk you through the set pieces. To find out more click here.

    Belfast Trad Fest 27th July – 3rd August

    This week long event is the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland and brings together both the Irish and the Ulster-Scots musical traditions in a shared celebration of culture & heritage. Participants include BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner Jarlath Henderson, Scottish piping legend Finlay McDonald, six former winners of the prestigious TG4 Gradam Ceoil awards – Harry Bradley, Edel Fox, John Carty, Mary Bergin, Michelle Mulcahy & Conor Connolly alongside Kevin Crawford of Lúnasa, John Joe Kelly of Flook, Oisín MacDiarmada of Téada, Ríoghnach Connolly of the Afro Celt Sound System, Niamh Dunne & Eamon Murray of Beoga amongst many, many others … phew! This is some line-up and I’m really looking forward to this one! Get the full schedule here.

    Dublin Irish Festival Ohio, USA 2nd August – 4th August

    Taking place across the pond at the same time is the Dublin Irish Festival, held in Dublin, Ohio and featuring a plethora of traditional Irish and folk music acts, highlights include Altan and Flook and some exciting up and coming artists like the group, Cúig and vocalist, Aoife Scott. If only I could be in two places at the same time.

    The Sidmouth Folk Festival UK 2nd – 9th August 2019

    This week-long seaside celebration of music, dance and song has been running since 1955 in Sidmouth town in East Devon and is one of those insider favourites with many of those on the English folk music scene. A highlight has to be the West Country Concertina Players who often hold mass demonstrations of the concertina and are not beyond pulling you off the street to get you to try it out. It’s a great family festival on a spectacular cliff side setting and the line-up this year looks wonderful including Julie Fowles, Peatbog Faeries and Le Vent du Nord (an award-winning folk music band from Quebec, Canada). For more information click here

    Punters on Shop street and Peter’s Street at the Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann 2018 held in Drogheda, Co. Louth. Pic. Robbie Reynolds

    Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann August 11th–18th

    Like last year, this year’s Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann will be held in Drogheda and represents the culmination of regional traditional Irish music performances from the year to date and will bring together finalists from the preceding competitions. There will also be plenty of ceol, with trad music taking over the historical town of Drogheda. This festival is particularly family friendly and a great way to introduce your child to the wonderful world of ceol traidisiúnta na hÉireann (traditional Irish music of Ireland). I always attend the national Fleadh and try to get to most of the regional Fleadhanna as well. Get the full programme of events here

    Milwaukee Irish Fest August 15th–18th, 2019

    The largest and one of the most important Irish Music Festivals taking place in the USA is the Milwaukee Irish Fest. You’ll find a huge variety of genres including Irish Traditional, Irish Folk, Celtic Rock, Contemporary Folk, Irish-Bluegrass, Americana … the line-up is huge and again too many fantastic artists to detail here, however if I were going, I’d be very interested to check out neo-trad groups, Elephant Sessions (Scotland) and Moxie (Ireland). This is a must attend for all music lovers within travelling distance, put it in your calendar! For more details visit:



    Galway Sessions

    June 2019

    Jim Dowling Uilleann Pipe & Trad Festival,

    June 2019

    Minnesota Irish Music Weekend

    June 14th–16th, 2019

    Doolin Folk Festival

    June 14th–16th, 2019

    Penn-Mar Irish Festival


    June 15th, 2019

    Knocklane Festival

    June 21st–23rd, 2019

    Craiceann International Bodhrán Summerschool

    June 24th–29th, 2019

    Blas International Summer School

    of Irish Traditional Music and Dance

    June 24th–July 5th, 2019

    Cairde na Cruite, An Chúirt Chruitireachta

    International Festival for Irish Harp

    June 30th–July 5th, 2019


    Carrick Water Music Festival

    Carrick–on–Shannon, County Leitrim

    July 2019

    Clonmel Junction Festival

    Clonmel, County Tipperary

    July 1st–7th, 2019

    Gooikoorts International Folk Music Festival

    July 5th–7th, 2019

    Willie Clancy Summer School

    Miltown Malbay, County Clare

    July 6th–14th, 2019

    Ceol na Coille Summer School of Irish Traditional Music

    July 8th–12th, 2019

    Earagail Arts Festival

    July 10th–28th, 2019

    South Sligo Summer School

    July 14th–20th, 2019

    Yn Chruinnaght Celtic Gathering

    Isle of Man

    July 15th – 21st, 2019

    Catskills Irish Arts Week

    July 14th–20th, 2019

    Great American Irish Festival

    July 26th–28th, 2019

    Ardara Bluegrass Festival

    July 19th–21st, 2019

    Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival

    July 19–21st, 2019

    East Durham Trad Fest

    July 20th, 2019

    Joe Mooney Summer School

    July 20th–27th, 2019

    CCÉ MAD Week

    Bethesda, Maryland, USA

    July 21st–27th, 2019

    Fiddler’s Green Festival

    July 21st–28th, 2019

    Ulster Fleadh

    July 22nd – 28th, 2019

    Meitheal Residential Summer School

    July 22nd–27th, 2019

    Scoil Acla Summer School

    July 27th–August 3rd, 2019

    Belfast TradFest

    July 27th-August 2nd, 2019


    O’Carolan Harp Festival

    Keadue, Co. Roscommon

    August 2nd-5th, 2019

    Iowa Irish Fest

    August 2nd–4th, 2019

    Montelago Celtic Festival,


    August 1st–3rd, 2019

    Ballyshannon Folk & Traditional Music Festival

    Ballyshannon, County Donegal

    August 2nd–5th, 2019

    Dublin Irish Festival

    Ohio, USA

    August 2nd–4th, 2019

    Goderich Celtic Roots Festival


    August 9th – 11th, 2019

    Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann,


    August 11th–18th, 2019

    Philadelphia Folk Festival

    August 15th – 18th, 2019

    James Morrison Traditional Music Festival

    August 2019

    Féile Cheoil Chill Chartha,

    Kilcar Fleadh

    Kilcar, County Donegal

    August 2019

    Feakle International Traditional Music Festival

    August 7th–12th, 2019

    The Irish Fair of Minnesota

    August 9th–11th, 2019

    Sparta Celtic Festival

    August 9th & 10th, 2019

    Fairport’s Cropredy Convention

    United Kingdom, August 8th–10, 2019

    Bath Folk Festival

    August 2019

    Milwaukee Irish Fest

    Milwaukee, USA

    August 15th–18th, 2019

    Masters of Tradition

    Bantry, County Cork

    August 21st–25th, 2019

    National Heritage Week

    August 17th-25th, 2019

    Tonder Festival,


    August 22nd–25th, 2019

    Cornwall Folk Festival in Wadebridge

    England, August 22nd–26th, 2019

    Kansas City Irish Fest

    August 30th-September 1st, 2019

    Irish Traditional Music Camp in Takashima,


    August 31st–September 1st, 2019

    Check out Journal of Music’s festival listings if you’re looking for a wider genre of music festivals for summer 2019.

    Posted by McNeela

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