FolkWorld Live Review 12/99:

1st Irish Spirits Festival

In Nauheim (near Frankfurt, Germany)

By Marcus Metz

photo by Marion Gavin On Saturday the 13th of November 1999 the 1st "Irish Spirits"-Festival organized by the "Freundschaft unter Nationen" a local cultural society took part in the old cinema of Nauheim a little town almost 20 km from Frankfurt City.

Mr. Pete Low spokesman of the society expected 150 people turning up that night but at least more the 350 came (100 didn't get into the venue which was completely packed).

"Irish Spirits" MC Mr. Stiofán Ó Foghlú from Cork City greeted the audience in German, Englisch and Irish before he welcome the first artist on stage: 19-year-old Harriet Earis from Guildford in England had her Germany debut and started the festival with tunes played on her Irish harp. Along with pieces of Irish harper Turlach O'Carolan Harriet played jigs, reels, polkas and airs from the Irish tradition - mainly from the West and South-West of Ireland.

Inbetween her playing Dr. Pádraig Patridge, a Frankfurt-based historian from Dublin turned to introduce the audience to some stories from the Irish mythology. After 50 min. the first half of the festivals ended with another fine story from Dr. Patridge.

Session; photo by Marion Gavin The second half started with the quite new Irish-trad band "An Tor" a six-piece with fiddles, flute, box, bouzouki and guitar. "An Tor" had well-known German bodhrán-player Rolf Wagels ("Dereelium"; FolkWorld contributor) from Hanover as special guest which gave their tunes an additional drive. The musicians were joined by dancer Seán Kilkenny from Galway. Kilkenny was amongst the dancers that appeared during that famous Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin - the birthplace of "Riverdance". Everytime Kilkenny put his feet on stage the audience went almost mad.

"An Tor" played only two songs, one in English ("Lough Erne Shore") and one in Irish ("An t-Oileán Úr"). Their repertoire consisted of reels, jigs, slip-jigs and hornpipes (mainly from Donegal and Sligo-Leitrim), some polkas (from the South-West of Ireland) and a slow air ("Inisheer)".

"Irish Spirits" ended at around half past eleven with a session when Harriet Earis, Rolf Wagels and "An Tor" played two sets of jigs and Seán Kilkenny came up on stage again (joined by Connie Grund a local dancer from the audience!). First reactions from artists and audience prove that there has to be a 2nd "Irish Spirits"-Festival next year. The responsible organizers are talking about a 2-days-festival for 2000 now.

Photo Credit: Marion Gavin

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