Longtime favorites and new faces – 80 acts total – will visit the 30th Dublin Irish Festival Aug. 4-6 for performances on seven stages throughout 38 acres in Dublin’s Coffman Park.
Back for the festival’s anniversary year is John Whelan, a popular musician who began performing at the Irish Festival when it was still in its infancy.
To recognize the festival’s 30th year, Whelan has been composing a song to represent the various genres of Irish music performed on the festival’s stages over the decades.
Whelan, who is known at the festival for his traditional Irish folk music, said his new composition begins slowly and builds, incorporating traditional instruments including the flute, accordion, fiddle and bagpipes, along with percussion and – he hopes – some electric guitar.
The piece will feature a spoken word segment, although Whelan said he has yet to decide whether it will be poetry or words sung with a melody.
The goal, Whelan said, is to feature a variety of musicians and Irish dancers as part of the performance. He said if 25 people can on stage together, he’d be happy.
Whelan and his guests will first perform the anniversary song at 12:45 p.m. Aug. 5 on the Dublin Stage.
While traditional Irish music has been a mainstay at the Dublin Irish Festival, the event also has witnessed the growth of another popular genre.
This year’s festival will mark 20 years of Celtic rock at the festival, said Alison LeRoy, Dublin Events Manager. Introduced at the festival’s 10th anniversary, Celtic rock has its own stage.
The addition was controversial at the beginning, LeRoy said, because some believed electric guitars and drum kits didn’t belong at an Irish festival. But in the 20 years rockers have performed in Dublin, their following has grown, LeRoy said.
Now, teens who had begun watching Celtic rock at the festival are returning as adults, LeRoy said.
At the festival this year Gaelic Storm, a band those same adults might remember seeing years ago, will perform.
Gaelic Storm first performed in Dublin in 1999. This year will be the band’s 14th appearance at the festival, LeRoy said, making it the nationally-known band with the most visits.
And, while Gaelic Storm has grown a considerable following in central Ohio, Celtic rock has become more recognized around the globe, LeRoy said.
This year, The Go Set, a five-piece punk rock band hailing from Australia, will take the Irish Festival stage for the first time as part of their first U.S. tour, LeRoy said.
Fans of traditional Irish folk music will recognize two musicians who will play together at the festival for the first time.
Musicians Dónal Clancy and Rory Makem are the sons of the legendary Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy, a duo known for their traditional Irish songs.
Makem, a Chicago resident born in Ireland and who lived in New Hampshire as a child, doesn’t underestimate the effect his father and Liam Clancy had on Irish culture.
“They pretty much brought Irish music out of the dark ages,” he said.
Makem, who plays banjo and sings, said he and Clancy, who plays guitar and sings, share a respect for traditional Irish culture and music.
The two probably will play from their fathers’ catalogue of songs with which they grew up, Makem said.
“It’s part of our DNA, these songs,” he said.
The Dublin Irish Festival will be held in Dublin Coffman Park, 5200 Emerald Parkway, from 4 p.m. to midnight Aug. 4; 11 a.m. to midnight Aug. 5; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 6.
Single-day tickets are $10 through Aug. 3. They will cost $15 beginning Aug. 4. For more information, visit dublinirishfestival.org.