Opening Concert Fri 29th April

Posted: Monday, April 18th, 2016

One of Ardara’s greatest Festivals the “Cup of Tae” starts on Fri 29th April with a special Concert in the Nesbitt Arms Hotel
to honour the great Donegal Fiddler Paddy McMenamin.  Paddy will be joined by his great friend Packie Keeney and a selection of Donegal great traditional musicans in a night not to be missed.  Space is limited – so be there early.  Concert begins at 8.30 pm sharp

Patrick McMenamin to be honoured

Posted: Monday, April 4th, 2016

RENOWNED Glenfin fiddle player Paddy McMenamin will next month launch his long-awaited debut album.

Simply titled ‘Paddy McMenamin and Friends’, the 22-track CD, which includes a 12 page booklet, will be unveiled to traditional music lovers in the Villa Rose Hotel, Ballybofey, on Thursday, April 7.

Indeed the ‘friends’ referred to in the title include some of the biggest names on the trad scene, including Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Dermot Byrne, Martin Tourish and Matt McGranaghan. The album was recorded by Terry McGinty before a live audience in the Balor Theatre as well as in Paddy’s cottage in Bindubh.

The part-time farmer from the Glenfin Gaeltacht is a self-taught fiddler who, as a child, picked up tunes from his parents, aunts and uncles and the many musicians who called to their house, such as the great John ‘Simi’ Doherty.

His father Paddy ‘Neil’ was an accordion and fiddle player while his mother Rose Anne was a singer who played the ‘Jew’s Harp’.

In a rare interview, the affable Paddy told the Donegal News this week the album was not an idea of his and that he’s never had any great ambitions to go into a recording studio.

“It was Matt McGranaghan who pushed me into making the album,” he laughed.

Nodding in agreement, Matt explained that, whenever they went to a session together, people were always delighted to see Paddy and were asking about him if he wasn’t there.

As a result, he organised a gathering of musicians back in 2006 to raise funds for the recording – more than 600 packed into Jackson’s Hotel for the night in question.

“For most musicians, the recording of an album is usually an ego trip. But Paddy was forced into making one by myself and a couple of other people,” said Matt who also produced the CD.

Paddy declined to ‘name names’ when asked about some of the more famous musicians he played with down the years.

“I play a lot with Matt, and that’s as famous as they come. It’s hard to pick out any one in particular as I equally admire each and every one of them.”

However, he proudly admitted that the album sleeve notes were written by none other than the world famous Tommy Peoples from St Johnston as well as Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh of Altan.

It took almost ten years, Matt said, for the album to come to fruition. After a couple of years planning, the first time they went into the studio was in 2009, but the Castlefinn fiddler said he wasn’t happy with the recording.

“It just didn’t capture Paddy at his best,” he said.

So it was back to the drawing board and, last November, a privileged audience was invited to The Balor for a live recording of Paddy and his friends. A few weeks later, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Martin

Tourish called around to Paddy’s house for more recordings.

Those who took to the stage in The Balor included Breid Gallagher (fiddle), John Bonner (banjo), Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh (fiddle and singing), Sharon McElhinney (piano), Jim Byrne (guitar), Victoria Bradley (flute), Dermot Byrne (accordion), Floriane Blancke (harp), Martin Tourish (accordion) and Matt McGranaghan on fiddle.

Master of Ceremonies was Packie Keeney and most of the recording, of stories and tunes, was done on the night.

“Everyone in the audience had something to say about Paddy, and it was all good,” added Matt.

“It’s very much a live CD and there were no rehearsals whatsoever. When Mairéad and Martin arrived at Paddy’s house, we were recording within an hour – no one knew what was happening, until it happened.

Paddy never put himself in the limelight, but every trad musician I know wants a recording of his work. Like Tommy Peoples, Paddy has a very unique style – it is a very true expression of himself and that’s real traditional music. It’s a 22-track CD with a 12-page booklet – a wee bit of history really.”

He said the big launch night would be a “mini fleadh” and is expecting hundreds to turn up.
Admitting he wasn’t too pushed when Matt first came up with the idea, Paddy says he is “very excited” as the launch draws closer.

“I never really wanted to do an album to be honest, but I’m very excited now. You see, I was always a bit nervous about microphones and that kind of stuff,” he stressed.

Despite the reluctance to have his name and face on an album cover, Paddy paid tribute to the musicians who played on it and, of course, to Matt for bringing it to fruition.

He also thanked Killygordon musician, Denise Roper, and his neighbour Annie Homer who “kept us going with tae” while her husband Keith was printing the CDs at their Bluestack Studio.

The launch will be held in the Villa Rose Hotel, Ballybofey, at 8 pm on Thursday, April 7. And to top off an exciting start to the year for Paddy, he will also be honoured at this year’s ‘Cup of Tae’ trad music festival in Ardara.

In the words of Tommy Peoples inside the album sleeve: “Every county would be proud to lay claim to a Paddy McMenamin, whose musical talent, generosity, grace and goodwill add to Donegal’s wildly scenic landscape and its wildly welcoming reputation, to its ethos, spirit and culture.”

The Cup of Tae Festival

Posted: Friday, February 19th, 2016

Affectionately known as the biggest little traditional Festival in Ireland, this year promises to be again a very special event. The committee honour a very special person each year who has made a huge contribution to music in Donegal. This year that great honour goes to Paddy McMenamin, the very popular Glenfin Fiddler. Paddy, this year launches his album and it is a treasure for lovers of pure Donegal Fiddle playing.

A special Opening Concert in his honour will take place on the Opening Night on Friday 29th April in the Heritage Centre at 8pm in honour of Paddy compered by his great friend Packie Keeney. This is a night not to be missed. Book early as tickets are limited. Paddy will be joined at this Concert by his Special Guests and friends and this promises to be the outstanding event of the year.

The famous “Cup of Tae” Schools of Music goes from strength to strength and follows in the steps of Mairead Ní Mhaoinigh who was the master class tutor last year. This year the committee are proud to announce that popular Fiddle Player and Tutor Brid Harper will join Aidan O’Donnell former Young Musician of the year to deliver the Master Class on Fiddle at the “Cup of Tae” Festival. Donna Harkin will do the Classes in the other instruments (see website for details). Classes will take place on the Saturday and Sunday of the Festival.

The Packie Manus Byrne, the Brid Harper and the John “the Tae” Concerts are amongst some of the events at this great Festival.

Musicians from all over the world attend this Festival and all indications are that this years will be no different with musicians booked in from Columba, Britain and the USA for this great weekend. Young musicians from Monaghan will join with local musicians including the well known Michael O Rourke as they do various outdoor sessions throughout the weekend.

Affectionaly known as the biggest greatest little traditional Festival in Ireland and one not to be missed – “Cup of Tae” Festival from Fri 29th April to Mon 2nd May, 2016.

For more details contact Stephen on 087 2424590 or email or

Maíread Ní Mhaoinígh

Posted: Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

It has just been announced that Maíread Ní Mhaoinigh will take the John “the tae” Master Class at this years School of Music.  Book early to avoid disappointment.

This years Festival

Posted: Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

The fourteenth “Cup of Tae” Festival takes place this May Bank Holidayweekend in Ardara, Co. Donegal.

This is quite a unique festival and if you havnt been there it is a must you go this year. Considered by many to be the greatest wee festival in Ireland it has all the qualities of an All Ireland Oireachtas without the competition.

The musicians are there, the fun is there. The spontaneity is thereand most events are free. The festival is in memory of one of the Countries most famous fiddle player John “the tae” Gallagher and each year the committee honour a prominent musician or musicians in his memory. This year popular Crossroads fiddle player Frank Kelly and champion solo singer Rita Gallagher are the honoured guests. The opening event of the festival in a special concert to honour this years guests Frank and Rita. This concert is organised with the honoured guests friends coming along and performing this special concert and this is a must if you are attending the Festival.

Later on Friday 1st May traditional music sessions will take place throughout the village of Ardara. Also registration takes place on both Friday and Saturday morning for the Cup “of tae”famous Schools of Music where the top musicians in Ireland teach on Saturday and Sunday with emphasis on fiddle classes. A number of other instruments are also taught.

Lunchtime Saturday sees a chosen Children’s champion traditional group perform recital at the Heritage Centre followed by an open air session around town. Saturday evening sees a number of traditional sessions organised with the local pubs having their own organised sessions.

Sunday sees the famous Schools of Music come to an end with a school performance on the Diamond in the afternoon along with other open air sessions.

The Cup “of tae” finishes on Sunday night with an All Star Concert in memory of John “the tae” with the many young musicians mixing on stage with the seasoned guests to give an always excellent concert.

Monday sees many spontaneous sessions in Town.

A special event not to be missed……………………

The Cup “of tae” Festival, Ardara, Co. Donegal.

May Bank Holiday weekend.