Festival Season Gets Underway

Celtic youth festival ‘Shennaghys Jiu’ will kick off the local festival season with a number of events based in the northern town of Ramsey.
Running from 8th – 11th April using selected venues throughout the town an acoustic concert will also be held within the historical Royal Chapel adjacent to Tynwald Hill in St John’s.
Involving both visiting and local musicians ‘Shennaghys Jiu’ (Tradition Today) is pleased to have secured the return of champion piper Ben Gibbs, who stunned audiences on a previous visit with his outstanding talent and innovative playing of the Scottish bagpipes.
But this time he is joined by ‘Highly flung’, a folk and dance group originating from Edinburgh. Formerly members of ‘The Christine Wilson Highland Dancers’ they are aged 18-26 and are no strangers to competitive dancing and performance. Taught primarily by former World Champion Highland dancer Christine Wilson, each has been involved with dancing both competitively and as a performer. Members of ‘Highly Flung’ have performed across the world including The Netherlands, Switzerland and Australia, but also on their home turf at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Accompanying musicians have been brought together from Scotland, Cornwall and the Isle of Man.
Towards the end of April the emphasis moves to the stunning landscape of the Dingle Peninsula in the Irish Republic, where the Isle of Man will be represented at the 40th ‘Pan Celtic Festival’ with financial assistance from the Isle of Man Arts Council.
The Dingle Peninsula is recognised as one of the Gaeltacht regions and until recently its rich cultural heritage was somewhat remote from the influences of the modern world. From here it’s possible to sail across to the famous Blasket Islands renowned for their historical, literary output.
Spanning a week of events the ‘Pan Celtic Festival’ retains a strong competitive spirit within the areas of music and dance. Attracting lots of public attention throughout Ireland it’s a perfect opportunity to promote the Isle of Man, by capitalising on the huge media attention that will surround this special 40th anniversary festival.
A packed programme of events ensures a full day of activities ranging from workshops, lectures and classes to ceilidhs, club nights and music sessions to see revellers into the early hours of the morning. Special events include a themed food market, a two day workshop exploring the history of Irish lace and special events for children. There will also be classes dedicated to each Celtic language, with Fiona McArdle teaching some basics of Manx Gaelic. As a special event for the 40th anniversary there will be an Inter-Celtic seminar on ‘The Role of Local and Regional Authorities in Developing Minority Language Areas’, with Phil Gawne MHK speaking for the Isle of Man.
A small group of friends from the northern based Manx Gaelic choir ‘Cliogaree Twoaie’ will be joining the winners of ‘Arrane son Mannin’, a local heat sponsored by the Manx Heritage Foundation to find a Manx song to represent the Island at the annual Pan Celtic Song Competition.  Local group ‘Ny Jinnyn’ will be heading for the contest with a song entitled ‘Sy Ghrianane’ which tells the story of one family’s anguish as they wait to discover whether their daughter, Vicky, was one of the victims of the horrific Summerland fire in 1973. The song, written by Vicky’s brother, Dave McLean and other members of the group, with translation into Manx by Bob Carswell, did have a happy ending though and will be sung in Ireland by Dave Rowles, backed by other members of ‘Ny Jinnyn’.
If you would like further information about the ‘Pan Celtic Festival’ please contact
(Courtesy of Manx Tails)
Valerie Caine © April 2011