Festival Organiser William Hammond celebrates four decades of the Cork Folk Festival, which runs from 3-6th October and plays host to a 'dazzling array' of folk talent past, present and future. 

The Cork Folk Festival began in 1979 and few would believe it would span four decades. We intend to celebrate the 40th festival with the very best of Cork, Irish and international folk musicians. Everything is set for a wonderful weekend of music in Cork city, with many fantastic musical treats for everyone to enjoy. 

The Cork Opera House will host our celebration concert on Sunday night, Folkfest@40. It features a dazzling array of musicians and singers, including Iarla Ó Lionáird & Steve Cooney, Martin & Eliza Carthy, Zoë Conway, Dónal Lunny & Máirtín O'Connor, Nollaig Casey & Arty McGlynn, Matt Cranitch & Jackie Daly and Caoimhe & Eimhear Flannery. This concert will be a salute to everyone who ever played, helped or attended the Cork Folk Festival throughout the years.

Original committee members of the first Cork Folk Festival in 1979 -
Paul Millard, Jim Walsh, Malachy Daly, Noel Shine, and Mick Daly 

We also feature two great concerts at Triskel Christchurch – the legendary Andy Irvine on Friday and, from Scotland, singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean on Saturday. We have invited fiddle player and educator Liz Doherty to be our first musician in residence at the Cork Folk Festival. Liz will feature at many of the events over the weekend including a UCC FUAIM lecture, workshops, concerts and a special event with Liz Doherty in Conversation at CIT Cork School of Music.

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Watch: Highlight from the 2017 Cork Folk Festival

We have a diverse range of concerts taking place on each of the four nights of the Festival in smaller venues across the city. We open on Thursday with Greenshine at An Spailpín Fánach, Diviners at The Roundy and the Noel Brazil Song Competition at the Crane Lane Theatre. Friday features a traditional concert with Karan Casey, Niall Vallely, Niamh Dunne, Sean Óg Graham, Conal Ó Gráda and Máire Ní Ghráda at The Oliver Plunkett Bar. Later that evening at the Kino we celebrate the music of Sliabh Luachra with Eoin 'Stan' O'Sullivan, Bryan O' Leary, Niamh Ní Charra, Matt Cranitch, Jackie Daly and guest Liz Doherty. This concert is dedicated to the memory of Timmy 'The Brit' McCarthy who died around this time last year. It’s an event Timmy would have loved to attend, and at the end of the concert, we will be dancing a few sets, as he would have done.

Iarla Ó Lionáird - coming to this year's festival

Saturday opens with the Food and Folk Open-Air Market at Emmett Place, followed by music classes at CIT Cork School of Music and various other venues. The afternoon will host both the flute & whistle and concertina concerts as well as a song session with Jimmy Crowley. A special Gals at Play concert featuring five female musicians will debut a new Cork folk Festival commission from Mary Greene and Edel Sullivan – a song entitled Cork. Saturday will also feature the hottest gig of the festival – be sure to book your tickets early – with Martin & Eliza Carthy, Siobhan Peoples, Blackie O Connell & Cyril O'Donoghue, Dermot Byrne & Yvonne Casey at An Spailpín Fánach.

Cork folk legends gather at The Corner House

Sunday morning will present a tribute concert to the late Chris Twomey with the Lee Valley String Band and Niall Toner. The afternoon will feature the fiddle, pipes and box concerts, followed by an evening of Cork songs from John Spillane and Jimmy Crowley, culminating at the Cork Opera House Sunday night for the finale celebration concert.

We look forward to seeing old faces and new at this year’s Cork Folk Festival, as we celebrate 40 years of the very best of Cork, Irish and international folk music in the city.

The Cork Folk Festival runs from 3 – 6 October - find out more about this year's programme here