How our Festival came into being…

Our Festival started because Batt Burns had a dream … to hold a festival in his hometown of Sneem with folklore and storytelling being the main themes.

A group of three, Batt, Jim and Grahame initially got together to explore this idea and after a while Rosie joined the happy band.  This was back in 2011 and in 2012 our inaugural festival was opened by Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.                                                                                  

Needless to say, our first festival was a success and over the years we have gone from strength to strength with the financial support of Failte Ireland by way of grants and our fabulous volunteers.  Since we started our festival we have also had the support of the Sneem Hotel and all the public houses whose properties we use for a pub trail every year.

In 2013 Batt came up with the idea of having a special concert for young people who want to tell stories; they were called “The Young Tellers”.  It has become one of the most successful events in our festival.

Our professional Storytellers have come from the USA, Wales, Scotland, and of course Ireland.  Among them:  

USA – Mike Mazur, Jay Stailey, Tom McDermott, Linda Poland, Len Cabral, Mark Binder, Connie Regan-Blake.

Wales – Michael Harvey

Scotland – David Campbell

Ireland – Batt Burns, Sonny Egan, Seán Ó Sé, Pat Speight, Sean Lyons, Frances Kennedy, Clare Murphy, Nuala Hayes, Ray O’Sullivan, Jack Lynch, Liz Weir, Jim Maher, Kate Corkery, Jay Ryan (children), Tom Moore, Killian Burns and Paddy Regan.

We have so far had four fantastic plays: Tom Crean – Antarctic Explorer written and performed by Aidan Dooley and John B Keane’s The Matchmaker with Jon Kenny and Mary McEvoy, Mikel Murfi’s The Man in Woman’s ShoesSilent by Pat Kinevane and this year we have two: – Brendan Galileo for Europe by Fionn Foley and Kate Corkery’s The Sweetshop on the Shore.  

Our Festival has held an evening with GAA Legends hosted by Micheal O’Muircheartaigh, with Pat Spillane, Tony Hanahoe and the late Weeshie Fogarty telling stories from their GAA days.

Folklore hasn’t missed out either.  There have been lectures on:

The Place of Daniel O’Connell in Irish Folklore – Rionach Ni Ogain

The Cailleach – the old woman of Irish Folklore and literature – Nuala Hayes

From Buck House to the House of Healing – Padriag O’Concubhair

Story in the Work of Kerry Authors – Gabriel Fitzmaurice

Ancient Irish Traditions – Lisa Feeney

Identity and Heritage on the Iveragh Peninsula – John Sheehan

Close to the Earth – Alice Taylor

We have had the Slieve Luachra band, Sean Garvey, Marion O’Neill, Sean O’Dwyer, Joe Thoma entertaining us and last year John Spillane.  

Our wonderful audiences have come from America, Australia, Canada, Hawaii, UK, most of Europe and all over Ireland.  We enjoy planning our Festival and hope you continue to visit us and our beautiful village.

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