Masters of Tradition artistic Director Martin Hayes with Cork pianist Cormac McCarthy and accordion player Brian Donnellan.

The masters are back in Bantry

Celebrating 20 years of journeying to the heart of Irish music, the Masters of Tradition Festival will return to Bantry next week for a glorious 5 day run.

From 18-24 August, music lovers are once again invited to celebrate the last days of summer in beautiful West Cork where they will witness performances from some of the greatest living trad musicians in Ireland.

As ever, the festival is headlined by its own artistic director Martin Hayes, the fiddler from East Clare, whose extravagant virtuosity has helped to bring the festival to new levels.

“Inside traditional music is a significant mastery. This is something you might not notice at a big outdoor event or in a corner of a noisy bar. In this environment, it is possible to bring people inside a very intimate and detailed experience of the music. This was an experience I had growing up myself and I want to share that with people,” said Martin.

Joining Martin Hayes in an unmissable opening concert in the Maritime Hotel are Cork pianist Cormac McCarthy, accordion player Brian Donnellan, dancer Stephanie Keane, and sean-nós singer Saileog Ní Cheannabháin.

The following evening, the renowned Kathryn Tickell Trio from Northumberland will play a highly anticipated concert in St Brendan’s Church.

The Bantry House concerts open on Friday evening with fiddler Sorcha Costello and pianist Catherine McHugh joined by Lorcán MacMathúna, fiddler Daire Bracken, and pianist and accordionist Martin Tourish. Late night audiences can catch uilleann piper David Power with violinist Marja Gaynor and flamenco guitarist John Walsh.

Popular duo, concertina player and dancer Caitlín Nic Gabhann and fiddler Ciarán Ó Maonaigh, take to the Bantry House stage on Saturday, alongside accordion player Derek Hickey and guitarist Steve Cooney.

Afterwards, the candlelit late night níos déanaí will welcome the Cormac McCarthy Project featuring fiddle player Aoife Ní Bhriain, cellist Kate Ellis, and singers Nell Ní Chróinín, Brian Donnellan and Cormac McCarthy, for music specially composed and arranged by McCarthy himself.

Elsewhere, during the 5 day festival, a series of secret concerts will pop up in unique local venues including Future Forests in Kealkil, as well as a series of talks in Bantry’s oldest pub, Ma Murphy’s.

To see the full programme for the Masters of Tradition Festival, visit