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Aonach Mhacha set to host William Kennedy Piping-Festival sessions this weekend

Aonach Mhacha

Aonach Mhacha are delighted to announce that they will play host to a number of William Kennedy Piping-Festival sessions this weekend.

The piping festival, presented by the Armagh Pipers Club, is celebrating its 29th year of attracting international audiences to the heart of the city.

The WKPF is an international festival of mainly bagpipe-based traditional music. Organised as a one-off event by Armagh Pipers Club in 1994, as part of a cross-community “Armagh Together” series of events, the Festival was such a success that it was reprised in 1995, and then became a regular annual fixture, drawing into Armagh a vast array of internationally renowned musicians, and aficionados from all over the world. It is one of the longest-running festivals of its kind in the world of piping.

There will be five public concerts, the Mark Donnelly Piping Academy, various workshops, a lecture, a film screening and a concert for schools.

Brian Vallely, Festival Director and Director of the Armagh Pipers Club said: “I’d like to extend a warm welcome to all our visitors from across the island of Ireland as well as our many friends from all over Europe. I know that many of you have been travelling to Armagh since the foundation of the William Kennedy Festival way back in 1994.”

The event plays an important part of the arts calendar across the Borough and celebrates the life and work of ‘innovative designer and master craftsman’ William Kennedy.

William Kennedy was a blind craftsman from Tandragee, near Armagh, who lived from 1768 to 1834. He made several important innovations in the design of uilleann pipes. His biography forms a chapter of The William Kennedy Lectures, a collection of 19 essays based on lectures presented during the first 25 Festivals.

The festival, held in his honour, will feature sessions across well-known city centre venues from Thursday November 16 until Sunday November 19, making its first appearance at Aonach Mhacha on Friday November 17 for a lunchtime session with Swedish musicians Olle Gällmo and Matthias Branschke at 1.30pm.

The Swedish Olle Gällmo, awarded the prestigious title of risksspelman for his virtuosity on the säckpipa, and pipe-maker Matthias Branschke from Germany have played and taught together for many years. In 2019 they released an album, ‘Double Yolks’, featuring both Swedish and German folk tunes; Olle also has a solo album, ‘med pipan i säcken’.

Aonach Mhacha will then showcase two sessions on Saturday 18, with Mná na bPiob – a trio of female uilleann pipers – performing in the venue’s theatre area at 1.30pm and a 4pm film screening of ‘Dark Horse on the Wind’, a documentary directed by Myles O’Reilly about the legendary singer, Liam Weldon.

Admission to the sessions is free unless otherwise stated.

The Lord Mayor, Alderman Margaret Tinsley, is delighted to welcome a return of the Festival, stating: “I extend a very warm welcome to any returning guests and also to anyone visiting for the very first time.

“Congratulations to the Armagh Pipers Club for their hard work and dedication in the organisation of this festival which I am sure will once again be a resounding success.”

The full festival programme can be found here.

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