Programme Announced for Joe Heaney Festival of Traditional Singing 2024

Cover image from Joe Heaney's 1963 album on the Topic label.

Programme Announced for Joe Heaney Festival of Traditional Singing 2024

Festival to mark 40 years since the singer's death with concerts, talks, sessions and launches.

Féile Joe Éinniú, the festival of traditional singing commemorating the renowned sean-nós singer Joe Heaney, has announced its programme for 2024. The four-day event takes place in Carna in County Galway, beginning on Friday 3 May and running until Monday 6 May. 

This year is the 40th anniversary of Heaney’s death in 1984 and the opening evening at Áras na hOllscoile will feature a celebration of his life and work. Contributors include musician and friend Máire Nic Fhinn, Mícheál Mac Lochlainn – site architect of the online Joe Heaney Archive, uilleann piper Néillidh Mulligan, and Sean Williams, co-author with Lillis Ó Laoire of Bright Star of the West: Joe Heaney, Irish Song Man. This commemorative event will be followed by a music and song session in Tigh Mheaic.

On Saturday morning at 10.30am there will be a lúibíni singing workshop for primary and secondary schoolchildren with Fearghas Mac Lochlainn at Áras Shorcha Ní Ghuairim. There will also be an English-language singing workshop with Eithne Ní Chatháin and a sean-nós singing workshop with Micheál Ó Cuaig. There is no fee for these classes, which take place at Ionad Cuimhneacháin na nImirceach in Carna.

A traditional music session for young people will take place at 12.30pm and this will be followed by Mórsheisiún Amhránaíochta na Féile (main singing session of the festival) at 2.30pm in Tigh Mhóráin with local singers and guests. There will also be a music session in Tigh Leavy at 3pm.

Festival concert
On Saturday evening, the festival concert at 8pm in Ionad Cuimhneacháin na nImirceach will feature a range of artists including uilleann piper David Power, singer Feilimí O’Connor, fiddle and pipes duet Fidelma and Mick O’Brien, Néillidh Mulligan and Fiachra Mulligan, Johnny Mháirtín Learaí Mac Donnchadha, Eithne Ní Chatháin, students from the University of Limerick, Maeve O’Neill, Breandán Ó Ceannabháin, Johnny Óg Connolly, the Uí Mhaoilchiaráin family, dancer Seosamh Ó Neachtain, Tony Sweeney, Baba de Búrca, the family of Seán ’ac Dhonncha, and Scottish musicians Calum MacMillan and Alice MacMillan. 

On Sunday, singing competitions for children aged up to 18 will take place at 2pm, and this will be followed by the launch by writer Jackie Mac Donncha of a new poetry collection by Aingeal Ní Chualáin, and the launch by An Coimisinéir Teanga Séamas Ó Concheanainn of a website dedicated to the singer, broadcaster and writer Máire Ní Ghuairim (1896–1964). These launches will take place at 4pm at Áras na hOllscoile.

At 6.30pm in Tigh Mheaic, the family of the late Seán ’ac Dhonncha will present music and memories associated with the singer, who was a contemporary and close friend of Heaney’s. 

The festival will conclude on Monday with a music and song session at midday in Tigh Mhoráin.

Féile Joe Éinniú will be officially opened by Journal of Music editor Toner Quinn on Friday at 8pm, and RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta’s morning programme Iris Aniar will be broadcast live from Ionad Cuimhneacháin na nImirceach on Friday also. A workshop in songwriting in Irish will precede the festival on Thursday evening at 7.30pm, organised by Pleanáil Teanga Chonamara Láir.

For further details on all events, visit, or contact Bríd Ní Mhaoilchiaráin at 087-6753451 or bridnmc [at]

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Published on 23 April 2024

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