Boyle Arts Festival – lineup 2021

Boyle Arts Festival
By Brendan McGee

BAF Logo portrait (2)

With less than five weeks to go, the line-up for Boyle Arts Festival 2021 is almost complete and the official programme will be launched in just a few weeks time.

This year’s Festival will be shorter than usual but will still feature over 20 events, including an impressive mix of live music, visual arts, drama, dance, interviews, street theatre, readings, online film and much more. Boyle will certainly be the place to be this summer!

Boyle Arts Festival will open on Thursday August 5th and continue until Sunday, August 8th. A selection of special events will run until Saturday August 14th, while the visual art exhibition will continue in King House until August 31st.

Some of the big names in the live music genre this year are the dynamic folk orchestra No Crows & Martin Tourish. This band features Steve Wickham, Anna Houston, Felip Carbonell, Oleg Ponomarev, Ray Coen and Eddie Lee and you can see them in concert with special guest Martin Tourish on August 5th.
Paddy Casey will make a welcome return to Boyle after a five year absence, when he performs some of his most recent songs and a few old favourites, during an intimate concert on August 6th.
Bird on a Wire – the Songs of Leonard Cohen will see singer Pauline Scanlon teaming up with The Whileaways, for an enchanting and atmospheric performance of songs by Leonard Cohen on August 7th.

The classical music programme will include ‘John Count McCormack – A Life in Song and Story’ on August 8th. Matthew Gilsenan from the internationally renowned Celtic Tenors will perform the celebrated songs of the great Irish lyric tenor John Count McCormack, along with a narrative of his life, accompanied by pianist Mairead Hurley.
Also, watch out for our acclaimed series of lunchtime concerts in King House from August 9th to 11th, featuring pianist Luke Lally Maguire, soprano Eimear Harper and flautist Molly de Búrca.

The inaugural King House Piano Commission 2021/21 will see a specially commissioned piece entitled ‘Sraith na Búille’ (The Boyle Suite) premiered on video during BAF 2021. The suite was composed by Dr. Ryan Molloy, who was the first recipient of the new award funded by the Arts Office of Roscommon County Council together with the Arts Council of Ireland, in collaboration with Boyle Arts Festival and in association with the Contemporary Music Centre. Performing with Dr. Molloy are Mossie Martin (fiddle), Alan Kelly (accordian) and Steph Geremia (flute).

Local musician, Donal O’Connor has also been commissioned by Boyle Arts Festival to compose two exclusive new songs about Boyle. ‘The River of Memories’ and ‘The Queen of Main Street’ will also be premiered on video during BAF 2021.

RTÉ News Journalist Carole Coleman will once again host the very popular ‘In Conversation’ series and this year her special guest will be Professor of Experimental Immunology and Director of The Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute at Trinity College Dublin, Professor Kingston Mills.

The beautifully restored King House will, as always, house the centrepiece of Boyle Arts Festival – the Visual Exhibition. Curated by Paul McKenna, this year’s theme is “Crossings”, which will bring together leading artists from across Ireland – Including Ursula Burke, Colin Davidson, Orla de Brí, Sian Costello, Aidan Crotty, Sara Flynn, Martin Gale, Peter Killen, Miseon Lee, Janet Murran, Daniel Nelis, Peter Pearson, Robert Ryan, John Shinnors and many more. The exhibition will continue until August 31st.

Other events at King House will include writer Kevin Barry, artist Laura Earley, who will discuss her book ‘Roscommon’s Mosaic Tradition’ while Tony Conboy will conduct a virtual tour of local interest buildings in Boyle from the Main Salon on August 6th.

Lizi, Lynda & Ceara are back with us after a five year break and they will host an afternoon concert featuring some classic songs with modern and folk influences on Sunday, August 8th.

Another one of our very popular events, ‘The Naggin of Knowledge’ is back again this year, with eminent scientists, Professor Marina Lynch, Professor Kingston Mills and Professor John Cryan.

There will be plenty of drama at BAF 2021 and we are delighted to welcome back Fregoli Theatre, who will present ‘Angels’ on August 5th. This is a short street theatre piece, created as part of their 2021 residency at Roscommon Arts Centre and supported by the Arts Council of Ireland. The drama is co-directed by Boyle native, Maria Tivnan and Tara Finn.
Beezneez Theatre Company will also present two performances of John McDwyer’s funny and heartbreaking ‘An Ordinary Man’ in King House on August 5th.

Watch out for free music from BAF veterans, The Men Who Knew Too Much in the grounds of King House on August 7th.

There are still a number of other events to be confirmed, including a special outdoor performance and projections event, produced by Roscommon County Council in collaboration with BAF under the Local Live Performance Programming Scheme. Details of this and other events will be announced later.

With a number of restrictions still in place, this year’s Festival will of course be a different experience but the Committee are following Covid-19 guidelines and working to ensure that all events will be as safe, enjoyable and memorable as ever.

Tickets for all events will soon be available to purchase online, exclusively at and details of when they are to go on sale will be published well in advance.

Please note that there will be no ticket office this year and there will be no tickets available at events.

In recognition of the difficult 18 months experienced by a great number of our loyal sponsors, we will not be seeking sponsorship this year. However, we will gladly accept any donation that is offered to us, as costs will significantly outweigh income this year, due to ongoing restrictions.

For more information on Boyle Arts Festival 2021 please visit email Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Boyle Arts Festival is supported by The Arts Council.