Cashel Arts Festival swings into action September 17-20





Cashel Arts Festival swings into action September 17-20

The 18th annual Cashel Arts Festival has launched! The launch took place at the foot of the Rock of Cashel on Thursday, 10th September with limited attendance due to public health advice.

The Cathaoirleach of Tipperary County Council, Councillor Michael Smith officially opened Cashel Arts Festival 2020, accompanied by Councillors Declan Burgess and Roger Kennedy, Tipperary Arts Officer, Melanie Scott and Chairperson of Cashel Arts Festival, Anne Marie O’Donnell, along with other members of the Arts Festival committee. Poetry was read from Stone on Stone, an anthology of poetry published by the Arts Festival Committee this year. 

We are delighted to have our festival off to a great start and look forward to fun and entertainment this weekend from Thursday, 17 to Sunday, 20 September. Events this year will take place on the radio, online and in the town of Cashel. The theme of this year’s festival is 2020 Vision and all the details of events can be found on our website,

Cashel Arts Festival is an event of and for our local community and the involvement and participation of locals is a vital aspect of the festival. 

This year, we have put together a community choir and in line with current public health advice, this has been done virtually. We asked for members of the local community, of all ages, to take part and are delighted with the response to our call for local singers! Choir director and music teacher, Lena Hally has put together and led this project and the video has been compiled by sound engineer, Pat Marnane. The song that we have recorded is A Million Dreams from The Greatest Showman, fitting in with our theme, 2020 Vision. This is a pre-recorded event, which will be shown online and as a projection in the town of Cashel over the festival weekend. Thank you to Lena, Pat and to everyone who took the time to learn and record the song for this project. We look forward to showcasing the vast musical talent and spirit in Cashel and the surrounding area.

As part of our tradition of Community Outreach engagement, an audio programme has been compiled from the reminiscences’ of some of the residents of our local Nursing Homes during the lockdown. Oral tradition is an important source of knowledge and provides valuable insight to the past. Musical interludes from singers and musicians in the area have been woven through the stories as a memento. Thank you to singers, Eimear Lowth and Thomas Grogan, and musicians Kaye Wallace, Olivia Lynch, Louis Clifton Brown and the young Fitzgerald brothers. Thanks also to Anne Devitt, for recording and for taking care of the technical side of the production and to Ardmayle Heritage Society for the use of St. John’s Church, Ardmayle.

Supporting Irish talent and giving our performers a platform to display their work is integral to the spirit of our festival. 

Another of our highlights this year is music from John Blek. Born in the north of Co. Cork, John Blek is an Irish troubadour in the truest sense of the word. With a voice that can go from an intimate whisper to a room rumbling roar, Blek can steal an audience away.

His song, Salt in the Water, was nominated for “International Folk Song of the Year” at Folk Alliance International 2018 Awards and his current record Thistle & Thorn reached number 1 in the Independent Irish album charts. John has an unrelenting will to create and travel with his music. He has released 4 albums in 4 years to much critical acclaim and tours extensively in Europe, UK and Ireland all year round. This concert was pre-recorded by Denis Vahey Photography in Ardmayle Church. Highlights will be displayed as part of our festival screen and the concert will be available to view in full on the festival website from 7pm on Sunday, 20th September.

Do Chuala Ceol combines the forces of film and music (live and recorded) in celebration of the unique traditions of poetry and music of the legendary West County Cork Gaeltacht of Múscraí. This new creative collaboration between singer and composer Fiona Kelleher, musician Caoimhín Vallely and filmmaker and Cashel resident Dónal Ó Céilleachair brings to life an Irish Suantraí (Magical/Lullaby) Song Cycle based on the poetry of Séamus Ó Céilleachair and Seán Ó Riordán.

This cycle of newly composed songs breathes new life into the narrative of these unique poems in an invocation of the fragility and strength of the human spirit and the ever-present inspiration and magic gifted to us by the natural world. This is a 45 minute pre-recorded performance featuring Fiona Kelleher on vocals and Caoimhín Vallely on piano. This will feature on the festival screen and on There will also be an opportunity to meet with filmmaker Dónal Ó Céilleachair via Zoom. 

Other events taking place over the weekend include visual arts, in the form of sand sculpting by Daniel Doyle, wood carving by Philip Quinn, which you can see taking place around the town during the week, and community art by the children of our town and local area will be displayed at the Plaza and the library in Cashel. On Saturday afternoon, there will be a festival screen with audio and visual, incorporating music and film.

The full schedule of this is available to view on our website. Wellbeing is to the forefront this year, with yoga classes, a belly-dancing workshop and offering opportunities to nourish mind, body and soul. David Donoghue, children’s author, will provide a workshop for children via Zoom also. This year’s Bolton Lecture, by Bonnie Greer will take place live on Tipperary Mid-West radio on Staurday at 7pm and we hope that you will listen in! 

Brochures with a programme of events can also be found in some of our local shops and supermarkets. Please check out our website,, and find us on social media including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see the array of events that we have to offer! Booking is now live on our website for both free and paid events, as numbers will be limited due to current public health guidelines.

Thank you to our principal funders: The Arts Council, Tipperary County Council, Creative Ireland 2020 Open Call Fund, Fáilte Ireland and Cashel Heritage and Development Trust, who make our festival possible.

From the 17 to the 20 September, Cashel will be filled with colour, music and a vast display of entertainment from a local, national and international stage. We hope you find the time to visit our lovely town to experience it all!