Ulaid @TradFestival 2020


18 Jan 20
by Nathon Jones

Seán Óg Graham, Dónal O’Connor & John McSherry - Ulaid

We are thrilled to announce that the superb Ulaid will be performing at this year's Newton Stewart & Minnigaff Traditional Music & Dance Festival at the McMillan Hall on Saturday 11th July 2020. Weekend passes are on sale now. Don't miss it!

Pronounced – ULL(pull) ID(kid) – The Ulaid were a people of Early Ireland who gave their name to the province of Ulster.

Ulaid features three supreme instrumentalists, gifted composers and talented interpreters of traditional and original music in one explosive package. John McSherry (Uilleann Pipes), Dónal O’Connor (Fiddle) & Seán Óg Graham (Guitar) are considered to be some of the finest players of their generation. Having released their eponymous record in 2015 to great critical acclaim, they have followed it up with a host of collaborations with some of Ireland’s finest singers such as Liam Ó Maonlaí, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Mary Dillon & Ríóghnach Connolly. In 2018 they released ‘A Note Let Go’ with the be-dreadlocked, be-mascara-ed collector of 1930s gramophones Duke Special, and have recently joined forces with the legends of Irish rock Horslips for a spellbinding collaborative performance on BBC. Featuring new compositions which sit comfortably alongside traditional pieces from 19th Century collections, plus fresh and progressive arrangements, coupled with occasions of free form solos, Ulaid will take you on an emotive and uplifting musical journey. From Ireland to the neighbouring Celtic regions, these three fearless musical adventurers chart a path from the ancient music of the Gael to the contemporary shape of traditional Irish music today.

“Ulaid features three supreme instrumentalists, gifted composers and talented interpreters of traditional and original music in one explosive package” – John O’Regan – Irish Music Magazine

“When three of Ireland’s finest talents join forces on a new recording it’s time to sit up, take note and fine tune the ears. This is where the tradition is at!!” – Lynette Fay – BBC Radio Ulster / Fleadh TV

John McSherry has been a major figure in Irish music for almost twenty years, and is hailed as one of the finest exponents in the art of Uilleann Piping. Described as ‘a true master’ by the Irish Music Magazine. He is a founding member of Lúnasa, Tamalin and Donal Lunny’s ground-breaking super group Coolfin. John has subsequently produced an array of critically acclaimed and innovative albums, both solo and collaborative, and continues to push the boundaries of Irish music with his current bands At First Light and The Olllam. He is a composer, producer, arranger and an established studio session musician of international renown, recording and performing with a myriad of artists including Clannad, Sinéad O’Connor, Rod Stewart, Nanci Griffiths, Gary Kemp and The Corrs.

Son of the celebrated fiddler Gerry O’Connor and revered singer Eithne Ní Uallacháin of Lá Lugh, multi-instrumentalist Dónal O’Connor has established himself as one of Ireland’s leading producers. He has performed and recorded with the likes of Duke Special, Moya Brennan, Davy Spillane, Four men and a Dog, Steve Cooney, Mary Dillon, The Horslips, Darlingside, Cathal McConnell, Bob Brozman, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, John Spillane, Lumiere and Barry Kerr to name but a few. Having inherited a musical legacy of at least five generations of fiddle playing he has toured the world from a young age as both a lead and backing instrumentalist with a number of bands including Lá Lugh, more recently At First Light, Ulaid and the Gaelic-song super group A Stór Mo Chroí. He has composed music for theatre, television and film and has presented music shows for BBC ALBA, BBC NI, TG4, BBC Radio Ulster and Raidio Na Gaeltachta.

Seán Óg Graham is a guitar and accordion player who has performed and recorded with many of Irish traditional music’s top artists over the last 10 years. He is a founding member of the highly acclaimed band Beoga, with whom he has recorded 5 albums and toured worldwide. He is also a talented arranger and composer, with more than 50 of his works featuring in the Beoga repertoire. Seán Óg is a first class Honours graduate of the Irish World Academy of Music and is also a member of the Scottish super group Fiddler’s Bid. His versatile and tenacious style of accompaniment is in much demand and he has performed and recorded with Grammy nominated fiddler Liz Carroll, Karan Casey, Buille, Flook, Lunasa, Máirtin O’Connor Band, and The Cora Smyth Band.

Ulaid
The Ulaid were a people of Early Ireland who gave their name to the province of Ulster.

At their height, Ulaid territory extended south as far as the River Boyne and as far west as County Leitrim. By the 5th Century, when documentary history in Ireland begins, the Ulaid still held significant territory, primarily in Counties Antrim, Down, and Louth, although the boundaries of their territories were fluid. Their primary ruling dynasty was the Dál Fiatach, based in Downpatrick, County Down.

The Ulster Cycle (Irish An Rúraíocht), formerly known as the Red Branch Cycle, one of the four great cycles of Irish mythology, is a body of medieval Irish heroic legends and sagas of the traditional heroes of the Ulaid, taking place around or before the 1st century AD.

The Ulster Cycle stories are set in and around the reign of King Conchobar Mac Nessa, who rules the Ulaid from Emain Macha. The most prominent hero of the cycle is Conchobar’s nephew, Cú Chulainn. The Ulaid are most often in conflict with the Connachta, led by their queen, Medb, her husband Ailill, and their ally Fergus Mac Róich, a former king of the Ulaid in exile. The longest and most important story of the cycle is the Táin Bó Cúailnge (Cattle Raid of Cooley), in which Medb raises an enormous army to invade the Cooley peninsula and steal the Ulaid’s prize bull, Donn Cúailnge. Her army is opposed by the seventeen-year-old hero Cú Chulainn, who single-handedly fends-off the army of Connachta while the Ulaid warriors are asleep under a spell.

You can purchase Weekend Passes online using the link below or individual concert tickets from early February.  It's going to be another outstanding night of music at the McMillan Hall again this July and one that you just won't want to miss.

Buy Weekend Passes

In Other News


Trad Music in South West Scotland

Join Aaron & Nathon Jones live from their respective living rooms on Sat 28th March to help raise funds to support The Vault Arts Centre, Newton Stewart & Minnigaff Traditional Music & Dance Festival, Girvan Folk Festival, Moniaive Folk Festival and Port Logan Big Skies Folk & Roots Festival.

27 Mar 20
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Live Concert 28th March Update

Just a wee update to say that Aaron and I will not now be performing together tomorrow night but will, instead, be broadcasting to you separately from our own living rooms. As a result, we have rescheduled for an 8:30pm start once all the little ones are safely tucked up in bed! Don't miss it!

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The Vault Arts Centre Closure

It is with a heavy heart that, as a result of the current public health situation with Coronavirus, we are announcing the closure of The Vault Arts Centre from the 17th March - 30th April. Our plan is to re-open on 1st May 2020, subject to advice and guidance from the Scottish government.

17 Mar 20
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Sponsorship support from:
  • Belhaven Brewery Logo
  • Five Kingdoms Brewery Logo
  • Merrick Real Estate
  • Creebridge House Hotel
  • Baillie Gifford Logo

6th annual music festival

The 6th annual Newton Stewart & Minnigaff Traditional Music & Dance Festival will take place over 12th-14th July 2019 and, after another outstanding programme of events in 2018 which saw us hosting Scottish Highland Dancing competitions and, as ever, some of the biggest names in traditional music, it looks set to be another packed programme and is really living up to it's reputation as one of the best rural arts festivals in Dumfries & Galloway.

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