Return of The Gaelic Voices Festival

By Madeline O’Connor

Now in its third year of celebrating the creativity and vibrancy of Gaelic languages and culture, The Gaelic Voices Festival invites singers and musicians from Scotland and Ireland to London each year. It’s a rare chance for audiences in the capital to hear the best of Gaelic song.

This year’s festival will take place on Saturday, May 17 at the London Irish Centre in Camden, and artists on the line-up include Iarla Ó Lionárd and Steve Cooney (Ireland) and Alasdair Roberts & Gillebride MacMillan (Scotland). They will perform in a concert at 5pm and there will be master-classes in singing and guitar accompaniment earlier in the afternoon.

Iarla O’Lionáird, best known as the ethereally voiced singer with the multi-million-selling, twice Grammy-nominated Afro- Celt Soundsystem, is considered one of the finest singers in Ireland.

Born in Australia, virtuoso guitarist Steve Cooney played across America before settling in Ireland in 1981, since which time he has collaborated with everyone from Sharon Shannon to Altan.

The pair formed a duo and began touring last year, to explore some of the great songs of the tradition in an acoustic setting.

But before the main event in May, The Gaelic Voices Festival is inviting budding performers to do some singing themselves and upload videos of their efforts online for its Gaelic Voices Singing competition.

You can find out more details about the competition at the official Facebook page

There is a category for singing Irish and Scottish songs in English and a category for singing any song (including modern songs or new translations) in Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Winners of each will get £100 and will be invited to perform at this year’s festival.

Tickets for this year’s festival can be purchased at



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