Kirkby Lonsdale and the Lune Valley are set to take centre stage for one of Ireland’s most prestigious cultural events - the 2019 All-British Traditional Irish Music Festival.
In its 61 year history, the event has never before been held in a town. Previously, the organisers have relied on schools or universities to provide suitable venues.
More than 300 competing musicians, aged from schoolchildren to pensioners, will travel here to take part. Every instrument used in traditional Irish music will be featured, from a simple tin whistle or fiddle to Uilleann pipes and ceilidh bands. There will also be singing and Irish dancing competitions.
The musicians are expected to entertain in various hostelries and other venues each evening of the three day event, which will take place on the weekend of June 28, 29 and 30 next year. The Irish Musicians’ Association have asked Kirkby’s Town and Tourism Manager, Janet Nuttall, to help them liaise with local groups to arrange competition venues and accommodation. Their representative, Pete Fawcett, says they’ll need many local volunteers during the weekend to assist with marshalling, stewarding, putting up signs and generally welcoming visitors to the town.
Pressure is on to find accommodation, not only for the musicians, singers and dancers, but also for the 1,000 or so supporters who follow and attend the event. Many hotel and other accommodation providers have already been approached, but the organisers are asking local people who may have a room to spare to give details to Janet Nuttall at the Visitor Information Shop at The Old Bank, 29 Main Street. If you can offer a bed, or would like to volunteer, call in or email with details of what you have to offer. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org Put Irish Music in the Subject line. It’s hoped to have a complete list ready by the end of November.
Janet Nuttall and Allan Muirhead, town councillor and director of the Community Interest Company, said jointly that they see this as a tremendous coup for the town which will put it firmly on the tourist map next year and bring substantial economic benefits to every business. The organising committee were a little uncertain about an urban setting for the festival when they first visited the town, but were persuaded by the enthusiasm of hoteliers, schools and businesses when the idea was first mooted.
Plans are being drawn up to hold a Gaelic football tournament with the help of the rugby club, and there will be music workshops in our two schools over the weekend - a weekend when Irish music, song and dance will see Kirkby Lonsdale go green. The President of Ireland has been invited to attend this Festival.
For further information, contact either Janet Nuttall at the Visitor Information Shop, or Festival official Patrick Morrison by email email@example.com