History of the Festival

The O Carolan Harp and Traditional Music Festival has been held in Keadue since 1978 and was initiated to commemorate Turlough O Carolan ( 1670-1738 ) , the last of the Irish Bards. His remains are interred at Kilronan Cemetery which overlooks scenic Lough Meelagh on the outskirts of the village.

In 1993 the O’Carolan Park was officially opened and a specially commissioned sculpture modelled on O’Carolan’s Harp unveiled as its centrepiece . The Festival has developed into an international celebration of the harp – alongside the tradition of our world renowned music, song and dance.

Other highlights throughout the festival include ceilis, concerts, lectures and a door dancing competition. This last event is a sample of the entertainment enjoyed in country house dances in years gone by.

We are delighted to have hosted many of the most prestigious exponents of traditional music in our 30+ years. National and International artists from the Douglas Gunn Ensemble in our first year , through The Chieftains , De Danann , Stocktons Wing , Patrick Street , Altan , Sharon Shannon , Dervish to name but a few. Not to mention those playing in sessions up and down the village – inside and out – mainly in sunshine but sometimes not.
Harpists of the highest calibre from around the globe have been drawn to Keadue and to O’Carolan , such is the lure of the music and the gravitas of  O Carolan’s contribution to harping.

The tradition continues through a new generation of musical talent. The O’Carolan Summer School  is held on the week preceding the August Bank Holiday Weekend (first weekend in August each year)
The popularity of the event is increasing. There is expert tuition by accomplished, well known music,dance and song tutors each morning – with other opportunities to play in sessions each evening in various venues around the village.

Details on our separate Summer School link at the top of the page.