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Cork Independent

Lifestyle & Leisure

Music to soothe the January blues

Wednesday, 2nd January, 2019 4:56pm

You might call January an unusual time for a music festival, yet it is precisely for that reason that the Ballincollig Winter Music Festival came to be.

Beginning back in 2008 in a small pub that had never previously been used for live music, Ballincollig Winter Music Festival is celebrating its tenth anniversary from 23-27 January, with its most expansive lineup yet.

Held upstairs at the White Horse pub in Ballincollig, the festival this year sees another host of Irish and international acts from trad, folk, rock, blues and more take to the stage, as well as a plethora of accessible free workshops, gigs and music sessions taking place in different locations around the town.

Speaking to the Cork Independent about the origins of the festival, Festival Organiser Joe Carey says: “The idea for Ballincollig Winter Music Festival originally came about because we felt January was in many ways sort of a bleak, barren month, and also a lot of musicians wouldn’t be as busy as they would during, say, summer festival season.

“It was a walk into the unknown. The pub had never been used for music before, we didn’t know whether people would come, there was a lot of questions.”

Ten years on, the festival has approximately 80 acts involved this year, with international acts including guitarist Jerry Douglas, who has played with Alison Krauss and Union Station and Portland country soul outfit The Delines. There’s also plenty of Irish representation, with folk singer Lisa O’Neill and Dublin singer-songwriter Cathy Davey among those performing, as well as Joe’s own band, the 11-piece White Horse Guitar Club, which plays Cork Opera House on Thursday 24 January.

“We’ve always chosen to take the cultural route rather than go totally commercial,” Joe explains. “We love all the big commercial acts, of course, and it’s not contrived, but we were always interested in creating new musical journeys and encounters, with the acts from the US for example, and for the audiences as well.”

The tenth anniversary of the festival includes an expanded community events programme which includes a fiddle workshop with Liam Flanagan, a sean nós singing workshop with Máire Ní Chéileachair and free pop-up gigs at the Westgate Foundation, Ballincollig Family Resource Centre and schools in the area.

“We felt a headline concert to be quite exclusive, between paying for the ticket, accommodation on a Friday or Saturday, and was cutting out a large part of the community,” explains Joe.

“We want to bring music to places that maybe don’t otherwise get exposed to it. Music is a language that is very accessible to everybody, and we want it to be exposed to as many people as possible.”

Ballincollig Winter Music Festival takes place from 23-27 January.

For info on lineups and tickets go to wintermusicfestival.ie or whitehorse.ie/venue. Limited tickets for events are also available from The White Horse bar.

Tickets for White Horse Guitar Club are available at the Cork Opera House box office.

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