THE annual Tyneside Irish Festival kicks off this year on Thursday, October 16 when folk heavyweights Donal Lunny and Andy Irvine’s five-piece Mozaik take the stage.
This festival has been an important fixture in the music and cultural life of the Northeast for going on 30 years — and long may it continue.
Finding the right blend of music and complementary events for a festival like this is not an easy task but the organisers somehow manage it year after year.
Irish trad-based Beoga have the fiddle and vocal talents of Niamh Dunne plus the twin accordions of Damien McKee and Sean Óg Graham, pianist Liam Bradley and four times All-Ireland bodhrán champion Eamon Murray.
The main band came together after jamming sessions at the 2002 Fleadh Cheoil in Listowel and was completed when classically-trained violinist Niamh Dunne from Limerick joined in 2005.
Beoga have gone on to become an established attraction on the international festival circuit and will headline Friday 17 at Tyneside.
Saturday 18 serves up the considerable talent of Sean Keane — surely one of the most distinctive voices ever to come out of Ireland.
Singing since childhood, Sean had already won 13 All-Ireland medals at Fleadh Cheoil competitions by his early teens.
After spending many years in different line-ups, including a spell with London-based Shegui, Sean — who plays several instruments — finally embarked on a solo career in 1993 and has become a regular touring act in Europe, the US and Canada with a number of terrific record releases covering several genres — all delivered in his own natural sean-nós style.
Apart from the three aforementioned concerts there are many other events taking place, including a documentary on Bernadette Devlin, a Newcastle Irish Heritage Walk and a lecture by popular Ambassador Dan Mulhall on Yeats and 1916.