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14th Donegal Bay and Blue Stacks Festival Opens This Weekend

2014 Donegal Bay and Bluestack Festival -  26 September to 5 October


The 14th annual Donegal Bay and Blue Stacks Festival runs in a host of towns, villages and rural communities throughout South and South West Donegal, from Friday September 26 to Sunday October 5th.  An annual, high profile focus for the arts in the south of the county, the Festival is presented by Donegal County Council and supported by The Arts Council. The Festival programme includes touring theatre, traditional music and dance, literary events, visual arts, arts in schools, a carnival parade as well as classical and contemporary music performances.


Check out the Festival Programme Highlights and find out more about what's happening this year by clicking - 

Donegal Bay and Bluestacks Festival Highlights PDF


Festival Opening


The official Festival Opening will take place at The Abbey Arts Centre, Ballyshannon on Saturday night, September 27 from 7.30pm and will include the launch of a new solo Exhibition by award-winning East Donegal artist Ann Quinn and a performance by the Donegal Youth Choir, fresh for their appearance at the recent Electric Picnic Festival and with a repertoire of songs to match!


Carnival Weekend & Sunday Miscellany


This year’s Carnival Weekend in Ballyshannon will include the fabulous Wild Atlantic Way-themed Carnival Parade on Saturday night, October 4th. and the highly anticipated return of the RTé Radio 1’s ‘Sunday Miscellany’ live recordings, at The Abbey Arts Centre, on Sunday afternoon, October 5th.  Participating writers will  include Moya Cannon, Marie Hannigan, Anthony Glavin, Winifred McNulty, Pat Boran and Siobhán McNamara.  Among the participating musicians will be Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Marie Askin, Martin McGinley and the Donegal Camerata String Ensemble.


Further literary events will include the Night For Noelle Vial event at The Bayview Hotel, Killybegs on Friday, September 26th, where the featured artist will be poet Jenni Doherty.  


The Donegal Weavers at Johnny Doherty Traditional Music and Dancing Festival

The Festival works closely with the Johnny Doherty Traditional Music and Dancing Festival which runs in Ardara from Friday to Sunday, September 26th.-28th.  As part of this collaboration, The Donegal Weavers dance event is a project the DonegalBay and Blue Stacks Festival is particularly happy to bring to Ardara.  An Irish figure dance popular among the Donegal Community in Glasgow in the 1950s and 60s, it was created around the Donegal tradition of handloom weaving, with each figure of the dance representing an element of the weaving process


Gortahork dance teacher Nora Kavanagh has recently revived the dance and she and her 12 dancers will lead a special Performance and Workshop of The Donegal Weavers figure dance at John Molloy’s Knitwear and Tweeds, Ardara at 2.00pm on Saturday, September 27.   The performance will be preceded by a demonstration of handloom weaving by Ardara weaver Colm Sweeney, on the new ‘Spirit of Donegal’ handloom. This beautifully handcrafted loom has been recently constructed as part of an Ardara Mens Shed project, led by Colm and master carpenter Bartley Haughey.


The main concert events in Ardara over the weekend will include award-wining Scots Gaelic singer Rachel Walker on Friday night  (26th) , Irish American supergroup Cherish The Ladies on Saturday night  (27th.) and The Friel Sisters ( Glasgow) on Sunday evening (28th).


Touring Theatre Programme


The Festival Theatre Programme will include Balor Rep Theatre Company’s First World War drama, ‘Remembrances’ – which opens at Glenties Community Centre on Friday next, September 26, before travelling to the Termon Complex in Pettigo on Thursday, October 2nd and to Halla Mhuire, Gleann Cholm Cille on Sunday, October 5th.


An Grianán Theatre’s brand new production of Patrick McCabe’s ‘Frank Pig Says Hello’ ( the stage adaptation of his best-selling  novel, The Butcher Boy ) comes the The Abbey Arts Centre, Ballyshannon on Wednesday, October 1st and may also be seen at Glenties Community Centre on Friday night, October 3rd.


The Ulster Theatre Company brings Brams Stokers’ classic vampire tale, Dracula, to vivid life at the Balor Arts Centre on Thursday, October 2nd.. while Donegal Drama Circle commence a three night run at the St. John Bosco Centre, Donegal Town on Friday, October 3rd. with their all-new production of John B. Keane’s classic comedy, Moll, seen by many as the forerunner of the hugely popular TV comedy series, Father Ted. 


Music Programme


This year’s Festival Music Programme will be one of the strongest yet. It will feature   a special concert performance by American songwriting superstar Beth Nielsen Chapman - who has written hits for Emmylou Harris, Faith Hill, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings among others – at the Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey on Wednesday, October 1 . Inishowen’s finest , The Henry Girls, currently on the crest of a wave with the success of their latest CD, Louder than Words, will perform at McIntyre’s, Dunkineely on Thursday, October 2nd. while LittleJohn Nee brings his Caledonia Highly Strung Orchestra to Aislann Chill Chartha on Friday night, October 3rd., to perform a selection of newly recorded songs from his hugely popular theatre shows. 


There’s a fresh focus too on emerging new talent with Slow Skies, a duo of Conal Herron from Glenties and Karen Sheridan from Dublin, who will perform their first Donegal show at the Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey on Monday, September 29th.  and Fiona Maria Fitzpatrick and Eve Belle - from Cavan and Gortahork respectively - who can be enjoyed at the Ardara Heritage Centre on Sunday, October 5th


Donegal Fiddlers Gathering


The second weekend of the Festival sees the annual Donegal FiddlersGatheringtaking placeat The Highlands Hotel, Glenties, from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, October 3rd.-5th. An exuberant celebration of Donegal fiddle playing now it its 32nd. year, it is organised by Cairdeas na bFidléirí, the Donegal Fiddlers Association. The Gathering will include lots of informal sessions, talks, masterclasses, a guided tour, and a big Gala Concert on Saturday night, October 4th. which will feature a selction of top local players with visiting special guests including Denise Boyle from Glenties, Siobhan Peoples from County Clare, Douglas Lawrence from the North East of Scotland, Nigel and Diana Boullier and Geordie MacAdam from Bangor, CountyDown.



FREE Festival Programme


The FREE Festival Programme will be widely available throughout the South and South West of the county from this weekend. It will contain full details of all Festival events, workshops and the Festival’s very popular, schools programme.  Look out for it in local shops, libraries, hotels, restaurants, tourist information points and at all participating venues. 




For Information, Please Contact Donegal County Council Arts Service

T: 00353 (0)74 9121968  E:


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