Imbolc Festival to Open with New Ailís Ní Ríain Work

Ailís Ní Ríain

Imbolc Festival to Open with New Ailís Ní Ríain Work

10-day arts festival in Derry features over 40 events; Ní Ríain installation features Jack Talty, Sarah Watts, Cormac O’Brien, Mark Redmond, Ciaran Carlin and Joanne Quigley.

Imbolc International Arts Festival begins this Sunday 26 January in Derry. Formerly a music festival, the event has now expanded to curate a programme of music, film, visual arts, dance, talk events and workshops over its ten days. This year includes artists such as the Benyounes Quartet with uilleann piper Mark Redmond, accordionist Luke Daniels and oud player Rihab Azar, traditional group Troda, singer and flautist Ríoghnach Connolly, and fiddle player Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh. 

The opening event of the festival is an immersive installation combining music, sculpture, text, audio and video by composer Ailís Ní Ríain. Inspired by the work of Irish poet Padraic Fiacc, the installation, titled No Other Word For It, is based around the theme of tradition in painting and sculpture and in Irish traditional and classical music. It features performances from Jack Talty (concertina), Sarah Watts (clarinets), Cormac O’Brien (bass), Mark Redmond (uilleann pipes), Ciaran Carlin (flute/whistle) and Joanne Quigley (violin), while the sculptural element to the piece was created by British artist Nicola Dale. No Other Word For It will run throughout the festival at EchoEcho Studios from 11am to 6pm. 

Unsigned musicians
Also performing at Imbolc are Tyrone singer Dàibhidh Stiùbhard, traditional group Téada and accordionist Séamus Begley (8 February), West Ocean String Quartet (8 Feb), the traditional trio of Danny O’Mahony, Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh and Macadara Ó Raghallaigh (9 Feb), 
and the Imbolc Youth Folk Orchestra with Ryan Molloy (8 February). This will be the debut performance by the orchestra, which was formed four months ago with young musicians from Ireland and Scotland. They will perform a selection of works from Molloy’s recent album Pianophony. On 9 February, Four Men and a Dog will celebrate their 30th year with a concert featuring the Imbolc Orchestra and harper Michael Rooney. On 6 February, a concert titled The Northern Fiddler will feature performances from Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Ellie Níc Fhionghaille, Roisín McGrory and Conor Caldwell.

On 30 January, the festival will host an event for up-and-coming musicians called Imbolc Unsigned in An Croí, Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin. The concert will present young local musicians including singer-songwriters Oscar Jennings, Cara Quinn, Christopher Kavanagh as well as alt-folk group Bairie and folk-rock band Seeds of the Oak Tree. 

During Imbolc there will also also be workshops with uilleann piper Pádraig McGovern, flute-player June McCormack, accordionist Danny O’Mahony, concertina player Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh, flute and tin-whistle player Kieran Munnelly, banjo player George McAdam and more. 

Imbolc will also host family-based events, theatre performances and film screenings. Most of the events take place at Cultúrlann Uí Chanainn and Acadamh Ceoil Chaoimhín Uí Dhochartaigh. For full details, visit


Published on 21 January 2020

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