Interview With Joe Carey, The Ballincollig Winter Music Festival, first published in Downtown/The Evening Echo 2014-1-16

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The Ballincollig Winter Music Festival reaches it’s 5th year next week, it’s main organiser Joe Cary spoke with Ronan Leonard about the festival’s history and plans. Firstly Joe explained how the festival came into being, “myself and friend Christy Leahy (best known for playing accordion with North Cregg) had a conversation in November 2009 and we agreed that whereas most of the year is overflowing with choice, January is very underserved with quality music and festival programming. We decided that we’d right that imbalance and try to inject a bit of life into the last throes of winter. We had just two months to organise artists such as Altan, Mundy & Liam O’Maonlai, thankfully the crowds gathered and the faith was repaid. Since that first outing we’ve been able to entice musicians to the town for the same reason, we’ve been so lucky with audience support.”

Each year the festival has grown, and 2014 has the largest amount of participants yet, “this year we are bringing in the region of 100 top class musicians to Ballincollig, from Grammy Award winners like Kepa Junkera, multi-awarding winning Mick Flannery, Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors (SEE INTERVIEW ON PAGE XX), Hermitage Green, Comhaltas Ceolteoirí Éireann, and Karan Casey to some of the very best of our young, local talent.”

The festival’s organisers has always been adamant about it being more than just a series of concerts and actually serve Ballincollig as a whole, “it’s always been our ambition to make the festival community focused at the core, we think a true community festival should shine a light into the corners that often get overlooked. It’s all very well celebrating the joy of music amongst the lucky few present at the big headline shows but how about those who can’t attend, those who don’t have the means or ability to come along and savour the fare? We put on plenty of free sessions, it’s a deliberate aim to make it easy for people, young and old, to wander in and out, to learn, to graze, to peek and prod. We believe that that is how the musical bonds can anchor and grow and ultimately, help the next generation of musicians to develop.”

There is also a very strong family and educational element throughout the festival that Joe explained, “all of our workshops are pitched at all ages, so families can all try to learn or improve upon a wide array of instruments, song and dance. This year we’re delighted to include ‘I Am A Little Boat’ a special musical event for 0-3 year olds, which is wonderful, interactive and expertly led by Fiona Kelleher. We are also hosting CALM (Ceoil Agus Lán Maitheas) who provide training and mentoring for musicians and healthcare staff, and design and deliver music projects and interventions in hospital and community settings around Ireland, which we hope will be the real legacy of this festival.”

The Ballincollig Winter Music Festival runs from Thursday to Sunday 26 January. For all event and booking details go to


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