Music and dance at Ulster Scots festival in Cairncastle

Blue Stack Mountains.
Blue Stack Mountains.

Musicians are tuning up for this year’s Cairncastle Ulster Scots Bluegrass and Folk Festival which takes place this week.

The festival will feature international bands playing Irish, Scottish, country and Bluegrass music.

On July 26, there will be music by The Grouse Beaters (comprising members from Whitehead, Larne, Antrim, Ballymena, Ballyclare and Cookstown), and dance display of Scottish country, Irish, Scottish Highland, Indian, Polish and Mexican dancers at Cairncastle Presbyterian Church Hall, commencing at 7.30 pm. Admission free.

Workshops will take place on the afternoons of July 27, July 28 and July 29 at the Halfway House Hotel.

Keyboard playing commences at 1.00pm and history of Bluegrass music commences at 3.00pm.

On July 28, bagpipes (demonstrate various parts of manufacture, with emphasis on drone reeds how to fit them and get them tuned etc) commences at 1.00pm, Ulster Scots and Irish languages commences at 3.00pm; July 29 - accordion (how tunes differ when played on the accordion in various parts of Ireland) commences at 1.00pm, and Irish and Ulster-Scots history will cover the battle of Passchendale in summer 1917, when 36th Ulster Division and 16th Irish Division fought together against the German army.

Admission to all workshops is free.

Musical evenings will be held at the Halfway House Hotel featuring the cream of Bluegrass bands including Bluestack Mountain Boys from Dublin and Prairie Jaywalkers, from Cork, playing a mixture of traditional Bluegrass and Americana.

On Friday July 28, there will be an evening of folk music featuring Stonewall folk band from County Armagh playing traditional Scottish music and songs.

Willie Drennan’s Ulster Scots Band will finish the night with rousing versions of Ulster-Scots songs and fiddle tunes.

On Saturday July 29, there will be a soirée of Scottish, country and Irish featuring over 20 musicians, including Stewart Buchanan – accordionist and trained baritone from County Donegal, Islanders – three fiddlers from Carrick, John Burns, accordionist and country singer from Maghera, Richard Findlay – accordionist and country singer, from Portadown and country singer Michael McSparron, from Carnlough.