IrishFest Atlanta returns to historic Roswell this weekend

IrishFest Atlanta will be held in Historic Roswell on Nov. 6.


Courtesy of IrishFest Atlanta

IrishFest Atlanta calls the meeting of traditional Irish music and dance with the people of Georgia “a match made in heaven.” Saturday marks the ninth annual festival, a one-day celebration of all things Irish. Teresa Finley, the event coordinator of IrishFest, joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom along with a tin whistle and fiddle virtuoso Colin Farrell, who’ll be a featured musician performing in tomorrow’s headlining concert. 

Taking place in historic Roswell, IrishFest will host nonstop, all-day live music featuring traditional Irish styles and instruments by master players brought from Ireland and locals. Various kinds of traditional dance will be on display, and featured artists will oversee workshops in traditional music and dance. 

“Colin Farrell, Kevin Crawford and Alan Murray will be playing as a trio. They are truly our featured guests this year,” said Finley. “Shannon Dunne is coming in from Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, as well to teach sean-nós step-dancing, and she’ll be playing with a couple of our local musicians … We have just about every Irish step-dance school in the city performing.”

Featured artist Farrell shared some background on his upbringing and personal history with Irish folk music. “I was born in Manchester, in the northwest of England, and my parents, they’re both from Ireland, from Cavan and Galway,” said Farrell. “When I was growing up, there were hundreds of kids like me, second-generation Irish … We were playing in different céilí bands and I was playing around the country when I was about 13 years old, 14 years old. And ever since then, I’ve just continued to play.”

For the uninitiated, Farrell added, “A céilí is a gathering of people, and we’d play music and they’d dance a ‘set,’ they’d call them. Some of the more well-known Irish sets would be ‘The Siege of Venice,’ or ‘The Haymaker’s Jig,’ maybe groups of eight or 16, and we’d dance around and play music for three or four hours and have a few drinks. It’s a great social gathering, really.”

All live music events are free to the public, and registration for workshops and special events is available through the IrishFest website. An online fundraising auction accompanies the in-person events. Unique heirloom and handmade items will be auctioned to buyers, including jewelry, artwork, and even a hand-knit Irish blanket made by Finley’s mother. 

“We really feel that bringing and exposing people to the traditional music and dance of Ireland is a great way to get people involved, to get our youth involved and to bring us together as a community,” said Finley.

IrishFest Atlanta takes place in Roswell, Georgia, on Nov. 6 beginning at 9 a.m. More information is available at www.irishfestatlanta.org.