Irish music fans will be happy to learn that the 21st Irish Festival in Finland will be hosted across the country from Friday 29th September to Sunday 8th October. The line-up of bands looks to continue the festival's commitment of bringing the best of Irish music to Finnish shores.
Ireland's Ambassador His Excellency Antoin Mac Unfraidh was very happy that the festival is taken out of Helsinki, "It reminded me that we aren't just in Helsinki, but here for all of Finland; it is broadens the experience of Ireland outside of Helsinki."
If, like me, your knowledge of Irish music begins with Terry Wogan's 'Floral Dance', moves on to The Fureys and Davey Arthur, and then ends with The Corrs, the festival is the perfect opportunity for you to broaden your musical horizons and enjoy a pint of Guinness or three at the same time.
Beginning life as a small Helsinki-based festival in the mid-Eighties and growing into one of the largest festivals of Irish music in Continental Europe is a feat of which the organisers can be proud. The festival has attracted big names over the past two decades, such as The Chieftains, The Dubliners, Christy Moore, Sharon Shannon, Sean Keane, Mary Coughlan, The Saw Doctors and Luka Bloom, while this year is no different.
Dervish, one of Ireland's top groups and known across the globe, are headlining the festival, returning after a 14-year absence and ready to celebrate Irish music in their own distinctive style. Dervish have the shared the stage with such names as James Brown, The Buena Vista Social Club, Oasis, Sting and REM, and have won many music awards, which isn't too bad for a group from Sligo, a little Irish town of 18,000 people.
Fresh from winning the Céilí Band competition at the World Fleadh, held in Ballybunion, County Kerry, Turloughmore Céilí Band are heading to Finland with the aim of teaching their audiences how to dance céilí (pronounced 'cayley'). Céilí is the traditional Gaelic social dance in Ireland and the general format of dancing is the "Set".
A Set consists of four couples, with each pair facing another in a square or rectangular formation. Each couple exchanges position with the facing couple, and also facing couples exchange partners, while all the time keeping in step with the beat of the music - don't worry, the band will be on hand to teach the basics to beginners. Olli Pellikka, the Executive Director of the festival, revealed that during his first visit to Ireland he got up to dance the céilí, but soon realised it was the Irish national anthem.
Pure Drop, a group of talented musicians from the west of Ireland, will bring good Irish traditional music to various parts of Finland during the whole festival. Mickey Dunne is one of the greats of uilleann pipes, Batt O'Connor sings and plays bouzouki, and Alan Egan is one of most talented young concertina players.
There will also be Finnish groups and musicians playing Irish music, such as Acoustic Flow and Markku Laurén Trio, while the Patron of the festival is legendary Finnish singer-songwriter, Heikki 'Hector' Harmalta.
"The most beautiful music of all is the music of what happens." - Irish proverb
Read the 21st Irish Festival in Finland Programme here
Visit the Finnish-Irish Society Website: www.finnish-irish.fi