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FASTNET MARITIME AND FOLK FESTIVAL - Ballydehob, West Cork - 17-19 June 2016

Hop on the ferry to Rosslare, drive along the nicest bit of coast road imaginable, taking in Dungarvan, Youghal, Kinsale and Skibbereen, until you round the corner at Roaringwater Bay (we are just off Fastnet Rock) arriving in Ballydehob. What a little beauty this is, just before Bantry - the friendliest people with a big Irish welcome. But hang on, there's a familiar face or two - it's Dick Miles and a whole host of friends. It's the Fastnet Maritime & Folk festival and well worth the trip.

The fifth annual Ballydehob Festival was an unbridled success this year. Despite adverse weather, the festival had its highest number of attendees ever, with the camper van area filled to capacity. Many artists from England and Ireland participated in the festival, bringing a mix of contemporary and traditional music with a maritime twist.

Andy Irvine headlined the festival, and his intimate sell-out show in Vincent Coughlan’s bar brought new and old fans alike to hear many of his classic songs, with Andy also making comment on current social issues. The local community was heavily involved, with schools providing maritime-themed displays for the festival and participating in a gala performance in Ballydehob community hall.

Irish traditional music was well-represented by musicians such as Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly, who are specialists in the Sliabh Luachra style. Leading concertina players Steve Turner and festival organiser Dick Miles showed their instrumental dexterity throughout the festival. Singarounds were held in venues in the village with singers such as Chris Wilson, one of The Wilson Family, a well known Geordie bunch who have been ‘name dropping’ somebody called “Sting”.

Trad sessions were also part of the festival, bubbling up across the village at a relaxed pace that gave festival-goers time to take in the music without rushing to the next event. With the success of this year’s event, the festival hopes to bring back legendary folk artist Martin Carthy to Ballydehob next year. Dick has some grand plans for 2017 so don't miss it.

Dick and his support team worked hard for the pleasure of all who attended, but would like to thank the following, without whose support the event could not have happened - Cork County Council, IMRO, local businesses and the community of Ballydehob. My thanks go to Dick.

Ronnie Williamson