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Where do all the stars disappear to for the Christmas?



It seems like only yesterday that the yardstick to define a good year for television stations revolved around the battle for Christmas and New Year ratings – but clearly that’s not the case anymore.

There’s still the odd nugget if you dig deep enough through the dross, but you’d need a talent for excavation to get there – as well as a strong stomach for the rubbish you’ll have to digest first.

But it’s a long way from the glory days of Morecambe and Wise or the Two Ronnies or Only Fools and Horses or One Foot in the Grave – even a more few short years ago we still had specials from the Royle Family or Gavin and Stacey or the Vicar of Dibley to keep us glued to the couch on a Christmas night.

Now it’s a schedule dominated by movies you’ve seen already – or if you haven’t seen them, they’re movies you’re unlikely to find a free two hours to watch while granddad snores off his big dinner.

Otherwise it’s a feast of quasi-celebrities dancing or ice-skating in a last desperate bid to rescue what once passed for a career.

New Year’s Eve is much the same, if you take the indefatigable Jools Holland out of the equation.

If it’s not some shtick review of the year through the eyes of an impressionist, it’s a musical extravaganza of wannabes and never weres who wouldn’t get booked for Christmas if they were arrested by the Gardaí.

In fairness to RTÉ, there has been an admirable consistency to their notion on what should welcome in the New Year for the housebound. I can still remember Derek Davis at the helm one year, and another time they gave the witching hour over to the Lotto.

But this year just beat Bannagher; to bring the curtain down on the Gathering, the powers that be decided to host a concert to one side of Leinster House – presumably on the basis that if it was fellas on the fiddle you were looking for, you’d be spoilt for choice.

They continued the theme by importing Madness, a bunch of scallies whose previous highs included a gig from the top of Buckingham Palace – and, if reports are correct, the high experienced wasn’t just the fact they were on the roof.

But this time they mixed it up by including what appeared to be local talent – admittedly we were watching this in the midst of a domestic din, but there appeared to be a little boy playing saxophone at one stage and another bloke in a tail coat dueting with Suggs at another.

Live gigs make for difficult telly at the best of times – it’s only with the help of re-engineering and overdubbing at a later stage that they can be brought up to scratch for transmission. So you’d forgive them the rough edges.

But there are rough edges and rough edges – like the presenters, Daithí Ó Sé and Sinead Kennedy, who were stuck back in a broom cupboard trying to make sense of this whole maelstrom in a language that was all their own.


For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel. 


Folk duo launch What Will Be Will Be



Niall Teague and Pádraic Joyce.

Folk duo Niall Teague and Pádraic Joyce are launching their new album What Will We Be, a  blend of folk, Americana and acoustic music, this Friday, May 19, at 8pm in An Taibhdhearc.

The success of their well-received 2020 release Taobh le Taobh, as well as recent successes at the Pan Celtic and Oireachtas Song Contests, spurred the duo on to record this new album which represents many years of collaboration and musical development.

It features Niall and Pádraic on vocals, harmonies, and acoustic guitars, Maidhc Ó hÉanaigh on double bass and Neil Fitzgibbon on fiddle. The catchy title track, What Will We Be, features contributions from percussionist Jim Higgins (The Stunning, Christy Moore, Paul Brady) and haunting, driving melodies on vocals, guitar, and fiddle.

Themes of love and hope are woven through Come Away with Me which features interplay between piano and fiddle as well as rich vocal harmonies.

People, places, and broken dreams are celebrated and lamented on Martin and Tom, Guitar Gold, Memories of You and Achill Island. The influence of David Henry Thoreau’s novel Walden features on the tracks Simple and Wise and Walden, with the beauty of nature, escape and simple pleasures at their core.

The album moves from minimalistic folk ballads such as Galway Ghost to swirling, string-laden arrangements on the song Neptune, both of which are influenced by maritime tales from Galway. Much of the work on this album was supported by the Arts Council, including work with musical arranger Eoin Corcoran and the string ensemble Treo.

The album will be launched this Friday, May 19, at 8pm in an Taibhdhearc. Tickets €22, plus booking fee at

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All roads lead to Dunmore as town tunes up County Fleadh



Most of the competitions for young musicians will take place this Saturday in Dunmore Community School. All the competitions are open to the public.

Dunmore is the place to be this weekend for lovers of traditional music, as the Galway County Fleadh will take place there from this Friday, May 19, to Sunday, May 23.

It is 10 years since Dunmore last hosted a fleadh and the local Comhaltas branch, which has re-formed since Covid, is looking forward to facilitating this gathering of music, song, dance and craic.

The official Opening Concert will take place in Dunmore Town Hall this Friday at 8pm with the acclaimed Mulcahy family from Limerick. Mick, Louise and Michelle are well known throughout the country, thanks to their live performances, television appearances and numerous CDs. They were the winners of the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Grúpa Ceoil Award for 2023.  Tickets for their concert can be purchased on the door and a great night of music is promised.

Two days of competitions will kick off this Saturday at the town’s Community School, with more than 1,500 competitors taking part. Participants will be hoping to qualify for the Connacht Fleadh 2023, which will be held in Ballina, County Mayo, from June 23 to July 2.

Competitions for those aged Under 10, Under 12 and Under 15 will be held in a large variety of instruments on Saturday, as well as in singing and Comhrá Gaeilge. Sunday’s competitions will be for the Under 18 and Over 18 ages groups, as well as in dancing.

On both days a large entry is expected for Grúpaí Cheoil and Céilí Band competitions across all age groups.

Seventeen Comhaltas branches from across Galway will have participants in this weekend’s competitions, which will result in a large number of visitors to the Dunmore area.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the competitions, which offer a great opportunity to hear and see the talent on display. There will be sessions in local pubs over the weekend as well and everybody is welcome to attend these.

For more information on the County Fleadh, go to


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Piano concert rescheduled for Tuesday



Pianist Cédric Pescia.

Music for Galway’s concert with renowned Swiss pianist Cédric Pescia which had been due to take place on April 27 but which had to be deferred, will now take place next Tuesday, May 23, at 8pm, in the Emily Anderson Concert Hall at the University of Galway.

This concert of German classics with Bach at its core, will brings the Bach element of Music for Galway’s 41st season to an end.

This world-class pianist who won the famous Gina Bachauer International Artists Piano Competition, has a repertoire that spans many eras from baroque to contemporary and he is widely known for his elaborate programmes. Cédric Pescia describes music as  ‘language and movement at the same time’.

Audiences will have a chance to experience his soft, clear touch as he performs a programme for solo piano that will include classics such as Schumann’s popular Waldszenen (Forest Scenes), a suite of nine short pieces, and the penultimate of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, No. 31.  These pieces will be interspersed with French Suites by Bach.

■ Ticket for Cédric Pescia’s concert are available at, or by phone 091 705962 and on the door on the night. They cost €20/€18. The price for fulltime students of all ages is €6 while MfG Friends can avail of the friends’ rate of €16.

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