This October the Irish Festival of Oulu in Finland will celebrate its 10th anniversary.
Seán Laffey put a call into the most northerly Irish festival in the world to talk to Festival Director, Brent Cassidy.
Seán: This is the 10th edition of the Irish Festival in Oulu, how did it begin?
Brent: It started in St. Michael Irish pub on a rainy Saturday afternoon in Oulu after a few tunes and a few pints. Irish music has been present in Oulu for nearly 30 years, but when I came on the scene back in 2000, it was dormant. This was way before Facebook too. I really wanted to learn and get serious playing Irish music more, so I sought out the local musicians and learnt as much as possible, later learning more and playing in Ireland. The once every-once-in-a-while session grew into sessions every other Saturday. More and more musicians, and people attended. Friendships were made and next thing you know, there was an Irish music scene with musicians, fans and later dancers.
So the session grew into a festival?
A few of us wanted to have an Irish music concert party but to do such a thing in Finland, you must have a society. So, in 2005, we started The Irish Music Society of Oulu made up of musicians and those friendly faces who supported the live Irish music scene here. What does one do when a new society is formed? Have an opening party with our 3 bands. It was February - 30°C outside - but the line went around the curb. There was over 300 people there.
This is just not a music festival, you are looking at a bigger picture of Irish culture. Right?
Since the beginning, we have developed a wide range of Irish cultural events, and the 10th anniversary festival has been extended to 6 days this year. We have organised a bigger special anniversary programme including the very best of Irish music bands as well as theatre, poetry, films, Gaelic football, sessions, storytelling for kids and adults, presentations and plenty of courses including music workshops, a weekend dance course with 3 levels, storytelling workshop, a dance club for kids, as well as an Irish language weekend course, and an Irish cooking course which will have Oulu's Deputy Mayor and former Master Chef Finland contestant attending.
With permission of Irish Music Magazine.
Enjoy the magic of Finland and Irish culture at the 10th anniversary Irish Festival of Oulu from September 29 to October 4, 2015.
Oulu is a city and municipality in the region of Northern Ostrobothnia, in Finland. There are no larger cities (outside of Russia) that are more northerly than Oulu. Once known for wood tar and salmon, Oulu has evolved into a major high-tech centre.
Many artists, writers, and musicians live in the city. A variety of concerts—rock, classical, and jazz—as well as other cultural events take place each year. Examples include the Air Guitar World Championships in August and The Irish Festival of Oulu each October.
Enjoy the magic of Finland and Irish culture with:
Photo Credits: (1) Irish Festival of Oulu, (2) The Chieftains, (3) Réalta (unknown/website).