Celtic Festival Season Gets Underway!

The 43rd Pan Celtic Festival will cross the Irish border for the first time in its history this year as the annual celebration of all things Celtic moves to the city of Derry in Northern Ireland.
It’s a great opportunity for those from the Celtic nations to come together and celebrate the occasion through music and song, attracting a sizeable number of competitors from the Isle of Man, with the assistance of the Isle of Man Arts Council.
Many of the competitions and sundry entertainment will be held in the historical Guildhall in Derry, including the keenly contested Pan Celtic International Song Contest which will feature Manx group Shenn Scoill who recently won the local heat Arrane son Mannin (Song for Mann) with their composition Tayrn Mee Thie (Drawing Me Home). Shenn Scoill will also be kept busy during the festival entertaining the crowds with Manx music and song.
But there’ll also be two Manx contenders in the popular traditional song competition as Marlene Hendy, singing Yn Challoo Yiarn (The Iron Pier) endeavours to retain the title she claimed last year. However, she will be joined this year by another Island contender, Lindsay Ridley, who will be singing her new song Skeealyn ny Marrey (Songs of the Sea) in her debut performance at the Pan Celtic Festival.
After the main Inter-Celtic New Song Competition the Manx contingent will be hosting an evening ceili in association with their Breton and Cornish neighbours.
The proviso of the Pan Celtic Festival is that the Celtic languages be used wherever possible, with a Manx Kiaull as Cooish providing an opportunity for festival goers to learn a little Manx Gaelic through speech and song as part of a series of language workshops.
The Island’s native tongue is fairly well understood, particularly in Northern Ireland, with valuable publicity about the Isle of Man’s participation in the festival already aired on Raidió Fáilte in both Irish and Manx.
Meanwhile back on the Isle of Man the organisers of Shennaghys Jiu (10th – 14th April) hope that this year’s home-grown festival will go smoothly after last year’s major snowfall disrupted their schedule.  But if you did miss out on seeing some of the great musicians and dancers there’s a second chance to see some of the visiting groups again this year, together with the support of many local performers.
So, it’s welcome back to Awry, a talented ceilidh band from Edinburgh bringing their own brand of dancing and music to the festival, Meini Gwirion, a small group of musicians and dancers from Wales and The Kerry Dancers who will be performing a high kicking and highly entertaining Irish dance show. Joining them will be the evocatively named Cornish ceilidh band Splann, who will be delivering some of the best Celtic tunes for dancing.
Valerie Caine

© April 2014
(Courtesy of Manx Tails)