Return to Camden Town is back
By David Hennessy and Anne Geaghan
The 14th Return to Camden Town Festival got underway on Friday October 26 with performances from multiple All-Ireland flute player from London Orlaith McAuliffe, cult trad group of the seventies Le Cheile with the talents of London’s very own Danny Meehan and veterans of the scene The Boys of the Lough, who have been going since 1967. There was standing room only for this special night in the McNamara Hall at London Irish Centre. Mayor of Camden Councillor Heather Johnson was just one of the special guests for this festival that shows just how the love of traditional music is passed down through the generations and also how this important part of Ireland’s cultural heritage is stengthened and preserved.
Festival Director Karen Ryan declared the festival underway by saying: “This is a particularly proud year to be part of the London Irish music scene, we’ve had a couple of our friends recognised internationally, two musicians from the scene have been recognised by Irish station TG4 with a Lifetime Achievement Award being given to Danny Meehan and a Musician of the Year Award being given to Bryan Rooney.
“I’m really delighted with the strong line-up. I know I’m going to say that but people have said it to me aswell. It really is a fantastic line-up this year. Without further ado, I would like to welcome you to the opening concert of the 14th annual Return to Camden which happens to coincide with the day you decided to put the central heating on but there is an upside to that and my proposal is that you come down here for two weekends on the trot and we all huddle together and save on heating bills.”
It was the winner of nineteen All-Ireland medals, flautist Orla McAuliffe who got the festival underway. Accompanied by harpist Colm McGonigle, this was a performance that got every foot tapping especially when she announced she would play the reels that saw her to success in the solo category of the 2011 All-Ireland Fleadh in Cavan.
Le Cheile, a band formed originally in the 1970s, were welcomed back to Return to Camden and rewarded the audience with a “ceili band” sound of true traditional tunes combining different traditonal styles from Donegal to Galway.
Boys of the Lough closed the opening night concert. This group is a fine example of an ensemble whose members harmonise their friendship and shared huge talents to give a concert audience colourful and heart warming music.
From a very musical family, Orlaith was joined by her sister Brogan, who also returned from this year’s Fleadh with a medal, for her final number. If the acts that followed Orlaith onstage, Le Cheile with Danny Meehan and The Boys of the Lough showed the history trad music is steeped in, nineteen year old Orlaith’s performance displayed how the traditions are being kept alive.
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