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DkIT Academics Receive Culture Ireland Support for Scottish Festival Performances

28 July 2023

Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) are delighted to report that Culture Ireland have awarded funding to two of their music academics, Dr Adèle Commins and Dr Daithí Kearney ahead of their performances at the Celtic music festival Speyfest in Scotland this summer.

No strangers to this event, Adèle and Daithí will perform newly composed Irish traditional music and song, along with additionally facilitating workshops with local musicians. The event will also include a screening of a documentary about the festival that they produced with students from DkIT.

Piano accordion player Adèle is Head of Department of Creative Arts Media and Music at DkIT. She was recently included in a new publication of women composers from Britain and Ireland by Faber.

Banjo player Daithí is co-director of the Creative Arts Research Centre at DkIT and was recently awarded the DkIT President’s Prize for Established Research in the Arts and Humanities.

Together they released the critically acclaimed album of new compositions entitled A Louth Lilt in 2017, described by The Irish Times as ‘a globetrotting musical adventure’. Like many other musicians, the pandemic curtailed their travels in recent years, but they also became parents, which adds a layer of complexity to touring as musicians.

Adèle and Daithí are quick to acknowledge the efforts by Speyfest to accommodate performers, involving more women performers and welcoming their children. As a family-oriented community festival, Speyfest have made efforts to achieve a gender balance, recognising that women musicians often faced barriers or challenges in the past that excluded them from performing.

Adèle and Daithí have received great support from the organising committee and have been delighted to share the festival stage with other young parents, who also have to change nappies backstage. Many members of the famous Fochabers Fiddlers, the local group whose existence inspired the festival’s beginnings, are also parents and have great empathy for the desire to not only keep playing but to introduce children to top quality music in a safe and welcoming environment.

Adèle and Daithí have been performing in Scotland since 2016, when they brought a young ensemble from DkIT to perform at the International Society for Music Education conference in Glasgow, followed by performances at Speyfest. They produced the film Finding Fochabers with a group of DkIT students – filmed and edited by students on the BA (Hons) Film and Television programme at DkIT during subsequent visits. It was screened at the International Council for Traditional Music Conference at the University of Limerick and as part of the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention.

Speyfest was founded by Scottish fiddle player and composer Sir James Alexander in 1995 and has grown to incorporate a 1500-capacity tented village welcoming some of the leading exponents of Celtic music. This year’s line-up features some of the top Celtic and Scottish traditional music groups including Skerryvore, Talisk, Ímar, Mec Lir and Michael McGoldrick.

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