Last weekend, I had the pleasure of being involved in the inaugural Ed Reavy Festival in Cavan, Ireland, organised by Cavan Town CCÉ. Reavy was a Irish traditional fiddle player and composer from Co. Cavan, who emigrated to America at the start of the 20th century. He composed numerous tunes, many of which are played in folk scenes all over the world today. The weekend promised a very exciting line-up in the form of Shaskeen, Mullahorn fiddler Antóin MacGabhann and many others.
I arrived in Cavan late on Thursday night, and therefore had a couple of days to relax at home before I went in to the festival. The girls were not flying over to Ireland until the day of the gig, and so arrived at the Cavan Crystal Hotel (where most of the festival events were based) Saturday afternoon.
The concert was packed with a great line up of local musicians. First up was the Comhaltas Ed Reavy Ensemble, which consisted of local youths playing some sets of Ed Reavy tunes and what a talented bunch!
Next we seen the Cavan Uilleann pipers (which included my brother Lorcán), who played a few sets of tunes in honour of National Uilleann Piping day.
Top Floor Taivers then took to the stage for a 40 minute set. We played several old favourites, including Captain Ward and Star o' the Bar, and two new songs; Campfires by Aaron Fyfe and Princess Rosanna by Findlay Napier (hear our new tracks here). Included as well, were two sets comprised of Ed Reavy tunes which I particularly enjoyed arranging and playing; Love at the Endings, House of Hamill, The Irish Jig, and my favourite Reavy tune, Lane to the Glen.
After our gig we sat and watched Shaskeen play some tunes. There were sounding great! When the concert was over, we made our way to bar where I caught up with some old friends and listened to a mighty trad session.
My tune composition workshop took place the following afternoon. I was delighted to be doing this, being a keen composer, I like to encourage more young people to write tunes and this was the perfect opportunity to engage with some young musicians from Cavan.
The class consisted of 14 teenagers, and after introducing myself and talking about my own compositions, I discussed the structure of an Irish trad tune and how one might go about composing one. Then we set to work composing a tune of our own!
We picked a key, time signature and structure, and at the end of the workshop a reel in A minor had been produced. The class decided to name the tune "For Ed", a very fitting tribute to Ed Reavy, and can be heard here.
I then made my way back to the Cavan Crystal Hotel, as I was to host a session with my brother Lorcán, Karen Dolan (a banjo player from Mullahoran, Cavan) and Malachy Bourke. A great fiddle player originally from Galway, Malachy has now settled in Cavan and is now a regular on the local trad scene. I really enjoyed catching up with him and was delighted when he gave me his most recent CD, a recording with fiddler Frankie Gavin.
After a mighty session, it was home and to bed for the night. I was very tired after a weekend filled with great music and chat! The Ed Reavy Festival is now set to become an annual installment in the trad music calendar and I am already looking forward to next year!