In a first for Irish festivals, Forest Fest, the indie boutique festival in Emo, Co Laois has taken the unique initiative to elevate its folk and trad programme to a distinctive platform all of its own.

The Forest Fleadh’ will run on a separate stage across all three days of the festival weekend from July 21,22 and 23 next, featuring the who’s who of the genre alongside some of the most exciting emerging talent making a name for themselves on the trad scene.

Top of the bill for the Forest Fleadh is the legendary Paul Brady, who numbers the great Bob Dylan no less, among his fans – ‘Some guys got it down, Leonard Cohen, Paul Brady, Lou Reed, secret heroes’. Paul Brady will perform on the main Forest Fest stage on the Sunday of the festival.

Others to feature on the Forest Fleadh line-up, a veritable festival within a festival, are Sharon Shannon, Daoirí Farrell Trio, Stockton’s Wing, Kíla le Prás, (Kíla with Brass), Greenshine, Two Time Polka, Goitse, Buíoch, and Emer Dunne, (full Forest Fleadh line-up below).

“Such was the response to the folk acts and the trad sessions at our first Forest Fest this summer that we felt it was an important progression as the event evolved to ensure that this quality, this level of talent, this renaissance in interest in the phenomenon that is the Irish folk and trad. 

“It is a sensational line-up, worth the price of admission on its own, as it really is a festival within a festival, the possibilities for the fusion and impromptu sessions are fascinating. Trad fans are going to be glued to this stage, Kíla performing with an eight-piece brass section, the thoughts of it, and we really have to commend the talented Dale Mckay for collaborating with us and helping to pull all this together, “enthuses Forest Fest promoter and founder, Philip Meagher, who keeps pushing the boundaries and expectations around the entire Forest Fest experience.

Talented trad musician himself, Dale Mckay is equally excited about what lies in store at next summer’s ‘Fleadh’ at Forest Fest.

The Forest Fleadh

“The Forest Fleadh brings you the very best of Irish traditional and folk music. There is something for everyone at next summer’s Forest Fleadh stage from the singing of the amazing Daoirí Farrell Trio, to a full on céilí featuring set dancing with The Grange Céilí Band and Irish trad from the absolute best such as Goitse, Blackie O’Connoll and Cyril O’ Donoghue to name just a few. The Forest Fleadh stage is a brand-new addition to next year’s festival, and we can’t wait to welcome you all to the Fleadh in the Forest to experience the very best of Irish music, culture and heritage,” outlines Dale, too bashful to mention that he’ll be there with his own crew, Buíoch.

“Curating a stage at a festival has always been a dream of mine so I want to extend a big thank you to Philip Meagher and the Forest Fest Team for asking me to help curate this stage. This has all grown out of the success of last year’s trad sessions at Forest Fest. I want to extend a special thanks to my band mates from Buíoch, Ruaidhri Ó Tiarnaigh, David Harte and Kurt Dinneen-Carroll for positive energy, abundant creativity, and the amazing welcoming atmosphere you create when playing music. This would not be happening without your helping hand, and that of Chloe Finlay and what we really want to do is bring a smile to people’s faces at the Fleadh and lift the place with our music,” Dale excitedly anticipates the trad scene in Emo village next July.

Forest Fleadh

The full Forest Fleadh programme features Paul Brady, Sharon Shannon, Daoirí Farrell Trio, Stockton’s Wing, Kíla le Prás, Greenshine, Two Time Polka, Emer Dunne, Goitse, Blackie O’Connoll and Cyril O’ Donoghue, Carlos Sweeney McCairtin, Buíoch,Trad Hits, Bog Bodies, Caoivin, Eva Coyle Band, Eric de Buitléir, Alfi ,The Grange Ceili Band and Set Dancing with Maureen Culleton, Darren Roche and Cillian Doheny, Splendid Isolation, Roo Elizabeth and Band, Tommy Fitzharris Siobhan Buckley and Aoife Buckley, Music Generation Trad Orchestra, Miadhachlughain O’ Donnoll and Joe Cambell Mcardle, The Off Beats Bodhrán Club.


The overall Forest Fest bill announced to date features Suede, James, BellX1, Paul Brady, Suzanne Vega, Peter Hook and The Light, Ash, Big Country, The Proclaimers, Gabrielle, Nik Kershaw, The Undertones, Bronagh Gallagher & Band, Carrie Baxter, Frank and Walters, Hermitage Green, Jack Lukeman, N.O.A.H, Pastiche, Something Happens, Sharon Shannon, The Primitives, The Riptide Movement, and Walk the Line, Alabama 3, Allie Sherlock, Apollo Junction, Bleach Lab, Dream Wife, Duke Special, Paddy Casey, Emer Dunne, In Tua Nua, Lavengro, 49th&Main, Roisin O, Robert Grace, The Barley Mob, The Lost Messiahs, The Outcast Crew, Trouble Pilgrims, Bone Machine, Pogueology, These Charming Men, The Classic Beatles and The Walkeleles.

The day-by-day highlights for Forest Fest are now available on the festival website, along with full details on flexible day tickets, weekend, and weekend camping tickets from Eventbrite. Day tickets for the festival are transferable and can also be upgraded to weekend tickets.

Forest Fleadh