Traditional Music and Dance

Co. Clare is universally considered as one of the heartlands of traditional Irish folk music. Traditional Irish music bands such as The Tulla Céilí Band and The Kilfenora Céilí Band, Micho Russell of Doolin, Martin Hayes and Willie Clancy, readily spring to mind. For those in search of an authentic Irish music experience, County Clare hits the high note. In addition to impromptu session in pubs across the county, Clare hosts well over a dozen music festivals each year… no matter what month you visit, there is a festival on the calendar. This rich musical heritage can be encountered in almost any pub at any crossroads where fine musicians break into a seisiún at the drop of a hat. However, for a visitor to the county seeking a guaranteed Irish musical treasure trove, they just need to head for any of the many festivals held in Clare.

The most well-known of these festivals is probably the renowned Willie Clancy Summer School that has taken place every July in Miltown Malbay for the last 38 years. The event is attended by young and old from the four corners of the globe who come to learn to play traditional instruments and join in the demonstration of their newly-honed skills in daily sessions. There are many lesser known, but no less enjoyable to attend, festivals from January to the depths of winter. The very best of traditional music can be heard in Clare and the standard of young musicians here is so high that the future of this incredible legacy is assured. The wealth of talent that can be seen in the festivals in Clare is extraordinary, not to mention that found at performance venues like Cois na hAbhann and Glór and teach ceol and parish halls all over the county.

Set dancing, the traditional group dance, has seen an entusiastic revival over the last two decades, and regular sets can be seen around the county, in places like Vaughans Pub in Kilfenora.

Music & Dancing near Hillview Farmhouse B&B

  • Traditional Irish music session every Wednesday & Sunday at Pepper’s Bar in Feakle.
  • Trad session every Saturday night in Nagle’s Pub, Kilfenora. Great music and craic guaranteed.
  • Every Wednesday there is a trad session in the Highway in Crusheen. Singing session on the second Wednesday of every month.
  • Hassetts of Ballinruane has live music,  set-dancing and singing every Sunday.

Festivals near Hillview

Feakle Festival

The Festival is based in the homely village of Feakle, East Clare, Co. Clare, Ireland. The Feakle Music Festival (www.feaklefestival.ie) has it’s origins within the rich array of musical talents that abound on the East Clare area. From the era of the house dance, through the Hall dances and pub sessions – a rich tradition has been maintained and strengthened thus eminating in a very successful Music Festival. The Festival started some years ago in 1988 and has gone from strength to strength. It is now respected worldwide as one of the best of it’s kind in the country.

Spancil Hill Fair

The first charter for this historic fair was granted by King Charles over 300 years ago. In the past the fair lasted for a week or more with people coming from all over the world. In recent times it has evolved into a one day show and fair where the leading horses in the country are presented. Buyers from all over Europe are still attending and purchasing horses who go on make their name on the international stage in both the showjumping and pony circles. See www.spancilhillfair.com for further information.

Willie Clancy Summer Festival, Miltown Malbay

The Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy (www.scoilsamhraidhwillieclancy.com) is Ireland’s largest traditional music summer school, held annually since 1973 in memory of the piper Willie Clancy. During the week, nearly a thousand students from every part of the world attend daily classes taught by experts in Irish music and dance. In addition, a full program of lectures, recitals, dances (céilithe) and exhibitions are run by the summer school. Learn of the traditional culture, arts, language and literature that County Clare is renowned for during this week-long exposition.

Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival

Located in the Spa town of Lisdoonvarna, with its spa wells Health centre and the only working Spa in Ireland, the sulphur baths, famous for their therapeutic treatments are an excellent way to relax after the rigours of the matchmaking festival. All hotels and bars have music and dancing daily. Romance and craic are to be had in abundance. Why not meet the matchmaker Willie Daly in the Matchmaker Bar at the Imperial Hotel during the actual Matchmaking Festival (www.matchmakerireland.com).

The Mountshannon Arts Festival

Nestled on the western banks of Lough Derg, the Mountshannon Arts Festival (formerly the Iniscealtra Festival of Arts, www.iniscealtra-artsfestival.org) takes place every year in the village of Mountshannon in East Clare. Each May brings a new collection of exhibitions, performances and workshops to inspire and to entertain locals and visitors alike. Rooted in the visual arts, the ethos of the Festival is to create access to works and exhibitions that would not be easy to find in a rural area while at the same time stimulating the creation of works and performances from within the local community.

Festival Calendar

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October