Kilfenora has a special and unique place in traditional Irish music.
- There is a range of tunes associated with Kilfenora – no other village in Ireland has that distinction.
- It has a special style, that harks back to the late 1800s. This derives from the long tradition of music activity in the village including fife & drum and brass bands.
- Kilfenora is known as the ‘home of céilí music’ – the type of music played for dances that developed in the early 1900s; which became hugely popular in Ireland, America and the UK in the 1940s and 50s; and has become popular again in the 21st Century. The ‘Kilfenora Set’ is one of the established dance routines featured at céilí dances.
- The Kilfenora Céilí Band was formed in 1909, and is one of the longest-established musical ensembles in the world, and celebrated for having twice won ‘3-in-a-row” All-Ireland championships. It is now a national Irish institution with an international reputation, famed in recent years for staging fabulous concerts with dancers.
- The Kilfenora Band has also featured many great singers over the years, and is responsible for creating a new anthem for its home county – “Clare, my heart, my home” – composed by band member Timmy Collins.
- Band members past and present have also won many awards and accolades for their playing, teaching and compositions. That includes perhaps the two best-known professors of Irish music, Seamus Connolly (Boston) and Gearóid O’hAllmhuráin (Montreal); other legends such as Tommy Peoples and Chris Droney; and the Young Musician of the Year 2020-21, Sharon Howley.
- The village features a permanent exhibition, opened by the Irish President in 2015, dedicated to the music of the region and its famous musicians – the ‘Kilfenora Céilí Band Parlour’, located in the Burren Centre, has virtually no parallel world-wide.
- The village stages the Kilfenora Traditional Music Festival each year (except during a pandemic!) which includes a hugely popular open-air céilí with the Kilfenora band.
- The magazine ‘Set Dancing News’ has been produced for many years in the village, with a world-wide following. Moving with the times, this has now moved on-line.
- In 2014, some 280 musicians gathered together in Kilfenora Square to create the largest traditional irish band ever, as recognised by the Guinness Book of Records (and the certificate is on view in the Kilfenora Céilí Band Parlour). See video here
- The current generation of Kilfenora musicians and dancers continue to win awards, feature regularly in sessions and concerts, and go on to teach future generations of young talent.
- You can download a short history of Kilfenora music with pictures here.
So come to Kilfenora and to North Clare to seek out and experience arguably the richest tradition within the internationally famous Irish folk music scene.