Welcome to Castleisland

Padraig O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival

Padraig O'Keeffe was born in Glountane to Margeret Callaghan, sister of Cal Callaghan and John, a schoolmaster at Glountane National School. Paidraig at first succeeded his father as schoolmaster at the same school, but after a few years he began his life as a traveling fiddle master. He walked twenty to thirty miles a day calling at farms and houses to give lessons, and most nights would be playing at local pubs. At one time he played at Lacka Hall with Mick Buckley, Denis Murphy and John Clifford. In later years he became resident at Jack Lyons' in Scartaglen. The traditional Sliabh Luachra style of music is distinct from that of Kerry or Cork. Padraig O'Keeffe perfected a style of bowing, use of ornamentation and overall interpretation, that introduced a wider range of expression into fiddle playing. In his time he had hundreds of pupils all over Sliabh Luachra, many are excellent musicians who still play in the Sliabh Luachra area.

Patrick O'Keeffe Tribute

He composed a number of tunes and his music was collected in 1947-49. These recordings were broadcast on Irish Radio, and used by the BBC in 1952, bringing him wide fame. In 1993 the 1940s recordings were issued on a CD "Padraig O'Keeffe: The Sliabh Luachra Fiddle Master". He is considered the most influential fiddle player of the M unster style in the 20th century.

The Padraig O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival has been held in Castleisland, Co. Kerry every October bank holiday weekend since it was founded in 1993. Great music, singing, dancing, poetry, book and CD launches are the staple fare on offer annually at this lively gathering of free spirits from all corners of the globe and beyond imagine that!

In its relatively short history the festival has established itself as one of the most highly respected of its kind in Ireland today. It has been attended by all the leading exponents on the trad scene throughout the country over the course of its reign.

Patrick O'keeffe Monument

The festival was founded in 1993 after a hint from RTE Radio 1 producer, Peter Browne – who had just finished a documentary on the life and times of The Last of the Great Fiddle Masters to coincide with the 30th anniversary of his death.

From its inception in 1993 the festival has adopted a nurturing approach to the Sliabh Luachra style of music and playing; a style which Padraig O’Keeffe is widely credited with harbouring and imparting through the bad years - years before it became all the go. There has been greater emphasis, in more recent times, on the educational aspects of the festival with classes on the traditional instruments of the Sliabh Luachra area being brought increasingly into focus each year.