We had a very successful revival of the festival weekend in 2022 after a 2-year pandemic break, albeit some of the sessions were over-subscribed with both musicians and listeners and some unfortunately were disappointed that they couldn't join in. The main reason for this was that there were only 2 sessions running in parallel Saturday and Sunday while there was huge interest in festival attendance and participation.
We had some great musicians in town and all events ran smoothly, including one last-minute location change from downstairs to upstairs which was arranged quickly and seamlessly when it was apparent that the bar was too busy.
The 2019 festival had already been in reduced format during a committee transitionary phase and the 2022 format was further reduced, rather than continue to cancel it, as long as there was still a risk of renewed restrictions. It is the hope now that the committee can be augmented and that 2023 may see a return to a larger programme of events. The 2 main challenges for us are pub venue availabilities and accommodation possibilities since the closure of some of both during the last 2 years ; once confidence is built around those we can then bring more musicians to the town and accommodate more listeners at the multiple sessions.
While the 2022 weekend was missing workshops, set dancing, the opening concert and other recitals, we more than made up for that with the quality of the music in the sessions which took place in 5 local pubs and at the Skerries Harps GAA clubhouse ; very positive feedback was again received from musicians, listeners and the local business owners.
We were delighted that the recently-formed Skerries Folk Club added their singing session to the weekend's programme.
A novel addition to this year's festival was an instrument showcase by 3 instrument makers who chatted to interested parties while displaying fiddles, pipes, bouzouki & guitar made by themselves and allowing other musicians try them out.
There was a session for teenagers and a family session to cater for younger players ; both of these were held at the GAA clubhouse with the former hosted by Caoilfhionn Ní Mhadagáin of CCE Craobh na Mara (Balbriggan) and the latter by Aoife McDermott.
There were really nice afternoon sessions with quality music and attentive listeners in 2 pubs on each of the 2 afternoons ; the Friday opening night had 3 pub sessions which helped distribute people better.
Sunday evening included an Adult slow session for less experienced players ; this is a very popular session which also happens outside of the festival and Paudie O'Connor is a popular facilitator of that session. In parallel with that there was a session downstairs led by our local Skerries musicians to bring the festival to a fitting closure.
We were very fortunate to have some musicians of national and international acclaim this year despite a late start to setting up the whole festival in only 6 weeks. We welcomed back some stalwarts of the festival like Paudie O'Connor & Aoife Ní Chaoimh, Mick O'Brien, John & Jacinta McEvoy, Tom Doorley, Alan Byrne and Jim Grant, all of whom have tutored and played at past festival weekends. We also welcomed first time festival participants like Derek Hickey, Jacqui Martin, Paddy Tutty, Paul Doyle, Ciara O'Brien, Seamus Meehan, Mark Kelly, Barra McAllister, Pax Ó Faoláin, Macdara Ó Faoláin, Victoria Pierce, Muireann Ní Shé and Tom O'Brien. Also prominent at the sessions were festival regulars Bill Haneman, Maurice Egan, Siobhan Bhreathnach, Eimer Casey, Paul Kelly, Carol Keane, Kevin O'Keeffe, Fergal McArdle, Dave Morris, Colm Ó Fathaigh, Terry Kirk, Helen Lyons, Ray Lawlor, Aido Lawlor, Aoife McDermott, Ray Ball and Tom McDonagh.
We are very grateful for the solid foundations laid by the original committee and for the continued support of local musicians, local businesses and the Arts Department of Fingal County Council.