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Newgrange News - O'Carolan Festival

There are many things to do in Meath as well as a lively atmosphere to enjoy them in. The Irish residents of Meath take great pride in their cultural heritage and no where is this more apparent than at the festivals and events that take place around the county.

The Nobber Harp Festival which took place in October 2010 was filled with delightful highlights, which included a concert featuring The Rosemary Caine Trio, harpists Gráinne Hambly and William Jackson as well as Meath's own Harp Orchestra, in the opening act. The festival was created in memory of Turlough O Carolan who is frequently called the ‘last of the bards'. His passing had a special relevance in the area as it spelt the end of the travelling Harper tradition. In the years following his death, northern Meath continued to produce literary academics that excelled at speaking, writing and recording in Irish.

There were many things to do at the annual Nobber celebration which was inaugurated in 1988 in order to mark the 250th anniversary of the famous harpist's death. It was officially opened by Labhras O Murchu and celebrated O Carolan with a weekend of lectures, music, song and dance.

At this lively 2010 festival Harpist Caine, from Ardee, had written three musicals, 'Wilde Irish Women', 'Women in Arms' and 'The Last High Queen of Ireland'. Also performing over the weekend was traditional Irish accordionist Mairtin O'Connor with accompanying fiddle player Cathal Hayden, from Pomeroy, Co Tyrone, and guitarist Seamie O'Dowd, who has played with Dervish.

Mairtin O'Connor's group played 'The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba', a song which had formerly made an appearance on one of Dé Dannan's albums. Not long ago the band members had re-recorded this song for their 'Crossroads' album. Resident Prof Seamus MacGabhann said the Mairtin O'Connor band is internationally acclaimed. "Mairtin was a musical force in Riverdance and Dé Dannan. Cathal Hayden is a renowned fiddle player from Pomeroy, Tyrone and Seamie ODowd has played with Dervish."

The Meath Harp Ensemble performed a tribute to Turlough O'Carolan by means of a compilation of several pieces composed by the master Harper himself including, 'O'Carolan's Welcome' and 'O'Carolan's Concerto'. The quality and traditional feel of this event proves that you will never lack things to do in Meath.