Sligo the home of traditional music

To say Sligo has a proud music tradition is certainly an understatement! Just over 100 years have passed since the great Michael Coleman first took to the stage as an 18 year old at Sligo’s Feis Ceoil. He went on to become the world’s most influential traditional musician of the twentieth century, though at that initial outing he only finished in 3rd place. After all, being the best fiddler in the world was no guarantee you were the best fiddler in Sligo! Along with fellow master musicians, such as James Morrison and Paddy Killoran, Coleman blazed a trail that has richly endowed Sligo to stake its claim as the home of traditional Irish music.

In their illustrious footsteps came musicians of the calibre of Fred Finn and Peter Horan who, as a duo, lit up the Irish traditional music scene for nearly three decades. National media delivered the sad news of Horan’s recent passing but, without a doubt, both Finn and Horan left a lasting imprint on traditional Irish music. Sligo’s unique style, musical history, and all the characters behind it, continue to inspire creative young people all over Ireland and beyond.

Currently, Sligo’s traditional music scene is at a very exciting juncture. Annual events such as Feis Shligigh and the internationally acclaimed Sligo Feis Ceoil are headlined by Fleadh Cheol, the all-Ireland traditional music festival. Also dotted throughout the year are a plethora of festivals, events and summer schools such as Cos Cos Sean Nos Dance Festival in Drumcliff, the South Sligo Summer School, the Coleman, Morrisson and Killoran festivals, as well as the relatively new and increasingly successful Sligo Live, which now encompasses the long-standing Fiddler of Dooney competition, an event inspired by a poem by W.B. Yeats of the same name.

There has never been a better or more exciting time to unearth Sligo’s glorious musical tradition. Whether you make the pilgrimage to The Coleman Irish Music Centre and try your hand at becoming the next Michael Coleman, or uncover this original and authentic brand of traditional music at one of the daily sessions that occur in town and county, if it’s traditional Irish music you’re after then please wipe your feet as you cross the border into Sligo, because you’re home!