Boston Irish Arts Calendar July 2024

​​Acclaimed accordionist Diarmuid Ó Meachair is at the Brian O'Donovan Legacy Series in the Burren on July 28.

A look at some upcoming Irish/Celtic events in the Greater Boston area:

Club Passim in Harvard Square hosts the annual Summer BCMFest on July 7, with entertainment beginning at 10 a.m. and lasting through the evening. Read more here.

On July 14, the club will present Triton, whose repertoire encompasses Scottish reels and hornpipes, Breton bourées and gavottes, Swedish polskas, and the odd New England waltz, among other things. Vermont-based Jeremiah McLane (accordion, piano) – whose interests extend beyond traditional music to jazz – is joined by Timothy Cummings (pipes, whistles) and Alex Kehler (nyckelharpa, violin, låtmandola) to produce sounds haunting, fiery, and sublime drawn from northwestern Europe traditions as well as contemporary sources, including their own pens. They released their debut album, “Rule of Three,” last fall.


A busy month for the Brian O'Donovan Legacy Series at the Burren gets under way on July 3 with Scottish music group Cantrip, which has grown from trio to quartet. Originating from the Edinburgh folk scene of the 1990s, the band has consistently built on its trad Scottish roots to encompass funk, metal, bluegrass, swing, even klezmer. Undergoing a significant line-up change some years ago, Cantrip includes Boston native Eric McDonald (guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, vocals); Dan Houghton (bagpipes, flute, whistle, guitar, bouzouki, vocals), a former Scottish resident now living in Vermont; Edinburgh’s Jon Bews (fiddle, vocals); and newest member Alasdair White (fiddle), a native of the Isle of Lewis living in New York City who has played with the Battlefield Band and Dàimh.    

 Western Massachusetts trio New Leaf performs in the series on July 10. The band has undergone a roster change since its 2019 debut album, with founding member fiddler Kira Jewett – a former pupil of Sligo-style master Brian Conway – now joined by Jim Bunting on guitar, vocals, banjo and bouzouki and Jacob Hagelberg on accordion. And where that first CD demonstrated New Leaf’s interest in other genres, such as Quebecois and Americana, they’ve focused more in recent years on the Irish end of their repertoire, as evidenced by their 2022 release “Coming of Spring” (recorded before the departure of original accordionist John Tabb), which includes compositions by the likes of Paddy O’Brien Seán Ryan, Brendan McGlinchey, Billy McComiskey (with whom Hagelberg studied), Liz Carroll, and Finbar and John Dwyer. 

It doesn’t seem like excessive hype to refer to Diarmuid Ó Meachair – who’ll play on July 28 – as “the hottest young Irish accordion player today.” The Cork native in fact won TG4 Gradam Ceoil “Young Musician of the Year Award” honors in 2022 and was nominated for two RTÉ Folk Awards in 2024 as “Best Folk Instrumentalist” and “Best Emerging Artist.” Ó Meachair has released two albums, “Siúl Na Slí” and last year’s “Melodeon Medleys” – he has another solo album due out very soon – and is part of the new Frankie Gavin and De Dannan line-up. His playing on accordion and melodeon – notably his rhythmic flow, ornamentation, and creative variations – has prompted comparisons to such box luminaries as P.J. Conlon, Finbarr Dwyer, Jackie Daly, and Johnny Connolly. Oh, and he’s an accomplished sean-nos singer as well.

Winding up the month for the Legacy Series on July 31 is Téada, long at the forefront of Ireland’s tradition-oriented bands. The group is built around the energetic, adroit triumvirate of fiddler Oisín Mac Diarmada, accordionist Paul Finn, and flutist Damien Stenson, who are in turn buttressed by Seán McElwain’s bouzouki and guitar and Tristan Rosenstock’s bodhran; American-born pianist and dancer Samantha Harvey, has in recent years joined the group for some performances. As demonstrated on their most recent album, 2022’s “Coiscéim Coiligh (As the Days Brighten),” Téada presents different facets and textures of Irish music, from “classic-style” instrumental sets and tunes and others more contemporary-minded; songs from the sean-nos tradition; and pieces that have echoes of vaudeville or music hall.

On a different front, the Burren also will present “A Tribute to The Pogues” on July 12 featuring The Nogs, a band of veterans from the Cambridge and Somerville music scene who will join forces to — as they proclaim — “unleash jubilant Poguetry upon the world.”


•Boston-area singer and folklorist David Coffin is a pleasure to behold in most any venue, but he’ll be at a particularly appropriate setting — Rockport’s Shalin Liu Performance Center – on July 21 for another edition of his Sea Chanteys and Mayhem” sing-along program. Coffin has been a local favorite for years through his appearances at Revels and other maritime-related events, and participation in numerous recording projects as a singer and instrumentalist, playing music of North America, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Brittany. In recent years, he’s gained a wider following through social media – such as Tik Tok – and his sea chanteying cameo in the Amazon Prime movie “Blow the Man Down.”

•Another local favorite, Newton-born and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan, will be at the Groton Hill Music Center on July 19, where she’ll collaborate with the trio Hawktail (Brittany Haas, fiddle; Paul Kowert, bass; Jordan Tice, guitar), which builds its cosmopolitan original music on influences from the American South and the North Atlantic. A folk/acoustic music performer since her teens, a member of the groundbreaking progressive bluegrass band Crooked Still and the “jazz-grass” supergroup Wayfaring Strangers, and a frequent soloist in “A Christmas Celtic Sojourn” – the creation of her late father, Brian – O’Donovan has amassed critical and popular acclaim for her genre-blurring music. Her most recent album, “All My Friends,” centers on songs she wrote that draw inspiration from women’s suffrage and the passage of the 19th amendment. It focuses on the life of Carrie Chapman Catt, one of the movement’s leaders and founder of the League of Women Voters, juxtaposed with O’Donovan’s own experiences. (Hawktail will be the event’s opener, then serve as O’Donovan’s band for the evening.) 


The High Kings, fresh off last year’s groundbreaking album “The Road Not Taken,” will be at Cary Memorial Hall in Lexington on July 27. The quartet – co-founders Finbarr Clancy, Darren Holden and Brian Dunphy, and most recent member Paul O’ Brien – derive its sound from the classic Irish ballad style that swept into popularity during the 1950s and ’60s through such bands as the Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners. Over the course of their 16-year history, the High Kings have broadened their repertoire and style, culminating in “The Road Not Taken,” which featured collaborations with Irish artists such as The Script, Kodaline, Picture This, Ryan Sheridan, JC Stewart, and Wild Youth, and guest appearances by icons like Steve Perry (Journey) – on the single and associated video “The Streets of Kinsale” – and Sharon Corr (The Corrs).