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Ryan & Brennish Thomson

Updated Feb 2, 2024

My view of the Festival, June 13, 2004

by Ryan Thomson

I enjoyed the new site of the Irish Festival at the Irish Cultural Center. It was formerly held in a grassy field at Stonehill College. The new location is better. Besides neatly mown athletic fields it has lots of trees, shrubbery, and pathways with scenic twists and turns. As usual, there were many volunteers helping with the parking and everything seemed to be running like clockwork. I was scheduled to play piano with the Ceol Traidisiunta na H'Eireann ceili band for set dancing and had quite a bit of equipment with me. 


Once inside the main entrance I was offered a convenient parking spot and a golf cart ride to the performance area for myself, my son, and my piano and amp. The fiddlers were ripping through sets of reels to entertain the dancers while myself and the rest of the band was setting up on the dance stage for our 2 pm performance. I was stationed on the corner of the stage next to box player Billy O'Neil who led most of the sets. We had a complete fiddle section along with Rich Attridge on flute and other musicians as well. Frank Bane managed the band, played box, and made sure that everything was running smoothly. 


We played energetically throughout the afternoon while the dancers did the West Kerry Set, Plain Clare set, and many other local favorites. After our 3 hour performance the Boston Comhaltas Ceili Band, led by Larry Reynolds, took the stage for another great set of dancing. I left my piano on stage, and went for a bite to eat and to explore the festival. Entertainment was taking place on several stages simultaneously. I caught bits of Alison Brown's banjo playing, fiddler Winfred Horan with Seamus Egan, and visited the vendor area. As usual, there was a wide selection of celtic recordings, clothing, food, and other items. 


I ended up over at the amusement park area where I rode the wild "Sizzler" and the "Cobra" rides with my son, hanging on tightly to our hats. As our second Cobra ride took us high into the air, I could hear the lively jigs and reels wafting from the dance tent in the distance. I was drawn back to the dancing and joined the Comhaltas band on stage for more music making with box players Fergis Keane and Tara Lynch, Larry Reynolds on fiddle, and others. As the sky was darkening around 9 pm, Larry called out for a last waltz and the another fine day of music and dancing was completed in style.

This article written by Ryan Thomson, 2004

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