Welcome to Féile Patrick Byrne 2020, an Irish traditional music festival held annually on the Palm Sunday weekend in and around Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan.  Organised by the Carrickmacross branch of Comhaltas, the event honours the Farney harper Patrick Byrne (c.1794-1863) who was the first Irish traditional musician ever photographed.  The féile has been running since 2007 and aims to showcase the best of traditional music and dance with concerts, workshops, sessions, talks and a sets céilí.

View Féile Patrick Byrne promotion video here     https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7HnwoRAb_KOk6FGbge8qqA

Wednesday 1st April

Official opening and the annual Patrick Byrne Lecture.

The Shirley Arms, 8pm – adm. free.

Gerry O’Connor will deliver this year’s lecture, ‘The Rose in the Gap’.  His talk will highlight the rich body of music, song and dance which was in circulation in the area 100 years ago.  Gerry will also play some of this music as well as showing images of the period, of the area, and of the original hand-written manuscripts in which the music was recorded.  A must for anyone interested in local cultural history.

Thursday 2nd April

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Gerry O’Connor and Gilles le Bigot in concert

8pm – St. Finbarr’s Church, Carrickmacross – adm. €10

"....Two brilliant musicians from two very different disciplines, come together in concert to swop and share their enormous talents. Wonderful music, full of passion, fire and energy....., " David Kidman

In 2006 Gerry and Gilles recorded an album before a live audience in Brittany.  Critics hailed it as “one of the great records of fiddle music” and “flawless in a way that is rarely found with live albums”.  Now fourteen years on the duo have chosen Carrickmacross to record their second live album.  Those attending will get to experience two superb musicians close-up while also being part of the recording process.

Music Session

10pm – Markey’s, adm. free and all welcome.

Friday 3rd April

Irish traditional singing session

9pm – Deery’s lounge, Carrickmacross – adm. free and all welcome.

A dedicated singing session with specially invited guest singers from Counties Monaghan and Armagh to lead.  All singers are welcome with the rule being that while no standard is set for the singing, a very high standard is set for the listening!

Saturday 4th April

Music Workshops

10.30am to 1pm - The Workhouse

  • Fun Trad with Seán Walsh and Sinéad Finnegan - a class aimed at younger students who would not be ready for regular workshops. The emphasis is on having fun with music. Places are limited to 15 and fee is €5.
  • Arranging and Recording for groups with Garadice - suitable for musicians and singers aged 12 to 18. This workshop will include learning rare tunes from the Carrickmacross area, arranging sets of tunes in a group, recording of final arrangements, and performing as support to Garadice that evening. Places are limited to 15 and the fee is €10.

Registration will be from 9.45am but places can reserved by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with student name, age and contact telephone.

Heritage Walk

11 am – meet at the Carrickmacross Workhouse.  Free event.

Historian Charles Barker will guide walkers around Carrickmacross and bring alive the vibrant history of the town. The tour takes approximately 90 minutes and walkers should wear comfortable shoes and perhaps bring an umbrella!

Early Irish Harp Discovery Day

2pm to 5pm - The Workhouse

The Historical Harp Society of Ireland come to Féile Patrick Byrne to present a discovery day of the early Irish harp.  This programme consists of a recital, illustrated lecture and a hands-on-beginners’ workshop on the instrument.

2pm, Listen

Siobán Armstrong, Ireland’s foremost performer on the early Irish harp, will give a performance along with leading sean nós singer Roisín Elsafty.

3pm, Learn

There will be an illustrated talk on the instrument from world expert in the field Simon Chadwick.

4pm, Play

Hands-on beginners’ workshop with Sylvia Crawford using copies of early Irish harps in the National Museum of Ireland. Places are limited to 8 on this workshop, so please pre-book.  

Registration will be from 1.15pm and the workshop cost is €10.  To reserve a place, please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Afterburners

5.30pm to 7.30pm – McNally’s - adm. free.

Open youth trad session organised by the Carrickmacross CCÉ Youth Officers with all teen musicians welcome.  No speed limits!

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Garadice in concert

8pm – St. Louis Secondary School Hall – adm. €15 adults / under 18s €5.

“A classic Irish folk album, in the footsteps of De Danann or Stockton's Wing, mixing solid traditional tunes with songs old and new” . . . .Alex Monaghan

Garadice feature Eleanor Shanley (lead vocals), Dave Sheridan (Flute, Accordion and Piano), Padraig McGovern (Uileann Pipes and Whistles) and John McCartin (Guitar).  Brought together by the Leitrim Equation project, the band present beautiful arrangements of songs and tunes, some original and some of which have not been played for over 200 years.  They are all master musicians who have gelled together to create a fantastic sound.

Support will be provided by the students who attended the workshop on group arrangements under the direction of Pádraig McGovern and Dave Sheridan.

Music Session

10:30pm ‘till late – Markey's.

Sunday 5th April

Sean Nós Dance Workshop

Noon to 2pm - St. Louis Secondary School Hall, Carrickmacross

Gerard Butler will lead this class which is suitable for both beginners and improvers.  Wear comfortable shoes.  Workshop fee €10.

Sets Céilí with the Salamanca Céilí Band

3pm to 6pm - St. Louis Secondary School Hall – Adm. €10.

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The Salamanca play music of a deadly standard that will make you move in ways you thought wasn’t possible.  Made up of David Doocey, Stephen Doherty, Brona Graham, Jim Corry and Gerard Butler, this is a musical partnership that is hard beaten.  “You will lose yourself in the music of this great band.”  The sets will be called and refreshments served. 

Reel Slow

6.30pm to 8.30pm – Deery’s Lounge - adm. free.

A dedicated slow session suitable for novice and improver musicians hosted by the local adult slow session group and led by fiddle player Noreen McManus.  Speed limits apply but all are welcome.

Survivors Session

9pm ‘till late – McNally’s - adm. free.

Final open music session of the féile with all musicians, singers and dancers welcome. Hup!

Thank you!

Carrickmacross Comhaltas / Féile Patrick Byrne would like to thank our funders and supporters for their generous help in making the festival possible:  the Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon; Monaghan County Council Arts Office; the Carrickmacross & Castleblayney Municipal District Council and Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Meitheal programme supported by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gealtacht.

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We would also like to thank the community organisations who have made our event possible: Farney Community Development Group, St. Louis Secondary School and the Carrickmacross Select Vestry. 

The Historical Harp Society’s Discovery Days are funded by An Comhairle Ealaíon / The Arts Council of Ireland.

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Thanks also to the Shirley Arms Hotel for their support plus Markey’s, McNally’s and Deery’s pubs who have sponsored our music sessions.  We would ask you to support them as they have supported the Féile Patrick Byrne.

Finally we wish to thank Aura Internet Services, the Northern Standard, the Dundalk Democrat and Northern Sound for their continued support.

Further details on www.carrickmacross.ie/things-to-do/feile-patrick-byrne and Facebook. 

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Text 089 216 5814.