Fingal International Festival of Voices organiser planning to run it for at least five years

The organiser of the inaugural Fingal International Festival of Voices, which takes place in Balbriggan from March 12-15, has committed to running the festival for at least five years.

Michael Dawson, founder and artistic director of the festival, said that he has already settled on dates and begun planning for the next four years.

“This is not a once-off event. We already have the dates decided and ideas in place for the next editions of the festival,” he said.

The three-day festival will feature top choirs from Ireland, the UK, Belarus and the US and is expected to attract hundreds of visitors to the town.

Concerts will take place at locations such as St George’s Church, Balbriggan Community Centre, St Peter and Paul’s Church, the Festival Pavillion and the Bracken Court Hotel.

The event will celebrate the multicultural diversity of Ireland’s youngest town by providing a platform for individuals and communities to showcase their culture through story-telling and spoken word events.

Fingal Mayor Cllr. Eoghan O’Brien welcomed the expected 2,000 local, national and international participants to Balbriggan.

“The three day festival will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase Balbriggan on the international stage,” he said.

Increasing the number of festivals and quality events in the town is one of 20 actions in 12 months identified in the Our Balbriggan Rejuvenation Plan.

“I am delighted that we are able to support this festival through our Council wide Events Fund and look forward to its many successes into the future,” said Emer O’Gorman, Director of Economic, Enterprise and Tourism.

Across the weekend of the festival the vast majority of events and activities will be free to attend – only the Grand Prix final of the choral competition will be ticketed.

An event called Candlelit Tales will breathe new life into Irish myths and legends in St George's church and younger audiences can make archaeological discoveries at The Big Dig.

The festival will feature storytelling for children and adults, folk singing, workshops and talks from international experts, a barbershop quartet, a festival pavilion with food trucks, a busking competition and a singing trail.

“I deliberately wanted the festival to celebrate diversity and build community through inclusion,” said Mr Dawson.

“Balbriggan is one of the youngest towns in Europe, and it has a massive multicultural population which was a perfect fit for what we wanted the festival to be.

“We called it Fingal International Festival of Voices because we wanted to encourage people to tell their stories through spoken word, solo or choir singing.”

To encourage local participation in the festival, Michael and the organising committee have reached out to local Balbriggan schools to help them either establish a school choir, or to coach existing ones.

Eleven schools have signed up for the free singing workshops, coordinated and delivered by Dónal Kearney, co-founder of Fingal Academy of Music. Mr Dawson is already planning the next five years of the festival and hopes to bring more poetry and other types of music to the town.

He established Fingal Academy of Music a number of years ago, which teaches music to more than 1,000 children every week.