From The Hobby Paul Keating
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One of the more important vehicles for the preservation and promotion of traditional music, which was at very low ebb when Comhaltas or CCE as it is commonly known got its start in Mullingar in 1951, was an annual music competition to encourage learning and standards that could ensure a future for the music.
This event would bring people from all over Ireland to a central place to share and celebrate the rich legacy of traditional Irish music before it disappeared due to general disinterest in the land and the loss of many of its most ardent fans through emigration.
It will come as no surprise to regular readers of this column that I seek out traditional music festivals with a distinctive or regional flair that are curated by artistic directors who care deeply about what they are presenting in any given year, and have great reputations among musicians.
Having visited and enjoyed the Baltimore Fiddle Festival in May the past two years, I was lured to come along to another West Cork trad fest on the shores of Bantry Bay. So last week I was drawn to the popular Cork town of Bantry to visit the Masters of Tradition Festival which was celebrating its ninth year under the curious eyes and ears of the East Clare musician Martin Hayes, who has been the artistic director since its inaugural year in 2003.