Fleadhfest, a first virtually, set in Sligo Aug. 1-9

The first-ever "FleadhFest" (August 1-9) – a virtual version of the annual Fleadh Cheoil na
hÉireann – will include a performance by Téada.

 “Virtual Celtic” explores online concerts, festivals, workshop,s and other events that feature or include Celtic music. Please note that details may have changed, or the events may have been postponed or cancelled, since press time.  

•The Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, arguably traditional Irish music’s biggest event, is once again cancelled, alas, but here’s some consolation: Fleadhfest, the first virtual fleadh, will emanate from Sligo Aug. 1-9. 

There is some precedent here: In the past several years, the Fleadh Cheoil has livestreamed (and archived) concerts and street performances, not only with special guests but also with many young musicians taking part in the fleadh’s competitions. Featured concert performers for 2021 will include Téada, Dervish, and the Máirtín O’Connor Trio, and each day will include a “Shebeen Session” – an hour of music and chat with two local musicians. And you can actually watch the competitions in many categories (including uilleann pipes, flute, fiddle, storytelling ,and slow airs).

One of the Fleadh Cheoil’s most popular attractions, the Scoil Éigse – where renowned musicians and teachers offer instruction – also will move online this year. Scoil Éigse will be taught in two slots each morning from Aug. 2-6 ; each evening between Aug. 2-5, some of the instructors will take part in Club na hÉigse, a special online session that will be livestreamed – tunes will be distributed online in advance of each of these sessions, and musicians are encouraged to play along at home. (You’ll need to register for Scoil Éigse via the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann website, comhaltas.ie.)

Check out fleadhfest.ie for schedules and other information.

•Celebrating 40 years, the Milwaukee Irish Fest (Aug. 20-22) will offer virtual content alongside its live, in-person programming (some of which will also be livestreamed). These will consist of musical performances from, among others, Frankie Gavin, The Mulcahy Family, Aoife Scott, and Colm and Laura Keegan, and interviews with artists including Paula Stokes. You can watch for free, but donations to the festival organization, CelticMKE, are encouraged. Details at irishfest.com/Milwaukee-Irish-Fest/virtual.htm.

As a prelude to the main event, the festival will run an online Summer School  Aug. 14-19, with workshops and classes via Zoom on fiddle, flute, tin whistle, guitar, harp, Celtic music styles, and more as well as discussions about Irish history, Irish language, and culture, and Celtic arts. Among the instructors are Shannon Heaton, Mick Moloney, Joanie Madden, Winifred Horan, and Marla Fibish. Go to irishfestsummerschool.com.

•For the better part of three decades, the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival in Ontario’s Huron County (on the southeastern edge of Lake Huron) has been one of Canada’s more popular Celtic music and culture events. It’s normally a weeklong affair, encompassing “Celtic College” (music, dance and craft art for all ages), the Celtic Kids Camp, and a series of rural outreach mini-concerts, culminating in the three-day festival on the shores of the Huron. But, unsurprisingly, Goderich went all-virtual last year, and is doing so again for 2021, with livestreamed performances on Aug. 6 and 7. 

The festival lineup features its characteristic mix of acts from North America, Ireland, and the British Isles, including Seán Keane with Pat Coyne, Dave Curley, and Daoirí Farrell (Ireland); Ryan Young (Scotland); The Ennis Sisters (Newfoundland); Emily Flack (Ontario); The Gilberts (Nova Scotia); and Fàrsan, whose members include New Englanders Katie McNally and Neil Pearlman. A new wrinkle this year is the Robinson Emerging Artist Showcase: 10 rising acts will compete for online audience votes, with two winners receiving a year of artist development assistance and mentoring; the two will appear onstage at the 2022 Goderich. 

Organizers say there also will be specially ticketed concerts and workshops in the week leading up to the festival.

Get information and updates at celticfestival.ca.