Féile na Bóinne Photographs by Joe Dowdall, 1976–77


Féile na Bóinne, the Drogheda Folk Festival, was first organised as a weekend festival in January 1976 by a local committee of the Tradition Club of Drogheda, with an emphasis on Co Louth performers. It was next held on a larger scale in October 1977. A great concourse of singers, musicians, and dancers came to the town from all parts of Ireland that year, and parallel sessions of recitals, concerts, workshops, lectures, and sessions were held in the Whitworth Hall, the O’Raghallaighs GAA Club, and other local venues. The festival continued on a smaller scale into the 1980s. Revived in the 1990s, Féile na Bóinne still continues annually as an autumn weekend festival.

Many of the artists at the 1976 and 1977 festivals were photographed in performance by Drogheda professional photographer Joe Dowdall of West Street. His artistic work constitutes a valuable record of traditional music of the period, memorialising older source-singers and musicians who were then being discovered, and the young performers who were learning from them, in what was a heady and exciting period for Irish traditional music. Many of the singers, musicians and dancers pictured here have since died, and it is good to be able to see them in their heyday.

In 1998 Joe Dowdall generously donated his Féile na Bóinne prints and negatives, and their copyright, to the Irish Traditional Music Archive for its use, and copies of them have since appeared in various publications.

Do you have photographs of Irish traditional music? ITMA would welcome their donation or the opportunity to copy them.

With thanks to donor Joe Dowdall and to Gerry Cullen for his good offices.

NC, 1 December 2009

Féile na Bóinne Photographs by Joe Dowdall, 1976–77