BY SEÁN P. FEENY
LAST Friday, May 31, Mickey Joe Harte was joined by the Inishowen Gospel Choir to perform the Donegal Gathering song, Come Gather All, at the launch of the 25th annual Earagail Arts Festival programme in the Station House Hotel, Letterkenny.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year the launch had a distinct ‘Gathering’ touch as Mickey Joe Harte performed the specially commissioned song Come Gather All, with help from the Inishowen Gospel Choir and Kilcar’s Mickey D of The Revs fame, to mark the launch.
See our exclusive video of the performance here filmed by Donegal News photographer Declan Doherty.
It was a beautiful rendition of the song featuring the ever popular Donegal choir, and a nice way to mark this special occasion as the excitement builds around the fantastic line-up of events the festival has in store for its 25th anniversary in the year of the Gathering.
The informal part of the launch took place earlier during the day as performers took to the streets of Letterkenny to let the public know that it’s festival time again.
Speaking at the evening launch, chairman of the Donegal Gathering Steering Group, Paddy Harte said the Gathering tourism initiative had proven to be a great success so far, with over 170 events being organised in Donegal, alone.
“One of the key events of those is the Abhaile concert in West Donegeal featuring Altan, Clannad and others, which has been organised by the Earagail Arts Festival.
“And I’d like to acknowledge the festival’s director Paul Brown for all his support on the Gathering initiative,” said Mr Harte.
Paying tribute to the festival founders, Letterkenny Mayor, Cllr Dessie Larkin said the festival had been a ‘wonderful success’ over the past 25 years.
“For 25 years we have been bringing people back through the festival and the fact that we have a national initiative with the Gathering this year is absolutely fabulous.
“The festival is attracting people to Donegal and that’s very important in terms of the economic benefits and the knock-on effect it has on businesses.
“Earagail Arts is always held on to its integrity while still ensuring that there is commercial viability and that’s why it is one the best festivals in the country.”
Donegal County Mayor, Cllr Frank McBrearty Jnr said he was very much looking forward to the festival. “There is a stunning line-up of Donegal musicians performing at the Homecoming event in Carrickfinn alone headed by Clannad alone.”
“The development and support of local talent has been a particular hallmark of the festival in recent years, including the highly successful commissioning programme headed by Paul Brown which has seen artists like Fidil, the Henry Girls and Little John Nee create new work especially for Earagail Arts and later tour with it and in doing so enhance the reputation of Donegal all over the world,” said the mayor.
Earagail Arts Festival celebrates its Silver anniversary this year and 25 years of festival fun with a programme that celebrates the true creative spirit of County Donegal. From the 21st June to the 21st July 2013 this iconic festival will be on the road from Inishowen to West Donegal to Letterkenny with a host of new productions from award-winning local and international artists.
Make sure to get your copy of the Earagail Arts Festival programme or log onto www.eaf.ie for further information on this year’s events.