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Mayo festival to have global reach

Staying In

RENOWNED MUSICIANS The Healy family from Castlebar – Sinéad, Gráinne, Darragh and Mícheál – will perform online for the Achill Harp Festival this Saturday at 8pm, while Sinéad will conduct a harp workshop on Saturday morning.

The Achill International Harp Festival continues to bring people from different nations together through a shared love of music. Due to Covid-19, however, the 2020 festival is taking on a different format – online.
The online format of the festival this year means that all ages, all nationalities can join in. This year the festival will be reaching out especially to those all over the world feeling cut off as a result of months of isolating.
All year organisers grappled with how this year’s festival would run. By late August, artists had been invited, venues and equipment were booked, excitement was building. Yet, there was unease within the committee. With the continuously shifting Covid restrictions, it was unclear whether an event would be possible in any shape or form. On a Zoom meeting late one September evening, it was decided that the festival would go entirely online.
So, instead of bringing international artists to Achill, top Irish performers are taking centre stage and being streamed to the world.
In the festivals of the past four years, the weeks leading up to the October Bank Holiday Weekend were a whirlwind of preparations all across Achill, for the arrival of artists and audiences.
That was nothing compared to going online! Nothing could have prepared the committee for the intensity involved in trying to produce a festival online in a little over six weeks.
Every element of the programme had to be filmed, edited and produced for online broadcast.
The enormity of the task dawned on the committee. But with the help of Seán Molloy of Blue Flag Media, the challenge was met. With the assistance of the unflappable Diarmuid Gielty, the impossible became a reality.
Through Covid restrictions, local and national lockdowns, testing, tracing and isolating, the committee succeeded in filming ten acts from all over Ireland, nine harp tuition workshops, two lectures, one documentary film on their harp-making workshop, one walk through the breath taking Achill landscape and one extraordinary bi-lingual children’s storytelling event.  So 24 incredible, never-before-seen events will make up the Achill International Harp Festival programme for 2020.
The committee have paid tribute to ‘our wonderful artists who gave so generously of their time and talent’.
“They tolerated major shifts in arrangements and performance requirements, yet were endlessly accommodating and professional. The artists of this country have contributed enormously to the morale of the Irish people during the last seven months of turmoil and uncertainty. This year’s festival was a way to celebrate our wonderful home grown talent. By providing an online platform for performances, we hope to highlight and pay tribute to the Irish arts industry,” said a committee spokesperson.
All at Achill International Harp Festival are inviting the public to tune in next weekend, to meet old and new friends. All details are on their new website, www.achillharpfestival.ie.

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