Music in Castlebar


Be it Traditional, Classical, Pop, Dance, Jazz or Blues, Castlebar has it all. Castlebar is the central administrative centre for the Mayo Youth Orchestra, Castlebar Concert Band, Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Maigh Eo, Mayo Bell Choir and the Castlebar Choral Society, to name but a few.

Live Music Diary

Have a look at An Sceal for times and venues of this week's music and events in Castlebar.

Music Network Concerts

On a regular basis Music Network concerts take place in Castlebar bringing the best national and International starts to Castlebar. Music Network concerts are mainly classical music but also including jazz and traditional concerts. Visiting artists have included John O'Connor, Regina Nathan and RTE Van Brugh Quartet among many others. Castlebar supports these concerts well and indeed it is important that as many people as possible come to these concerts in order to ensure that Castlebar remains on the circuit and that it hosts even more concerts than at present. It's hard to beat live music and seeing top class international artists in action is a boon for young musicians especially. Check out the Linenhall Arts Centre for upcoming concerts.

Pub Sessions

The pubs are alive with the sound of music too. Traditional sessions starting off in the corner and growing with more and more musicians joining in as the night goes on. Many pubs on the streets of Castlebar have regular music sessions. McCarthys, for example, has a traditional session every Monday night.

For a list of pubs most likely to have music sessions in Castlebar see the list for the 1999 Blues Festival

An annual musical event is the 'Battle of the Bands' in which budding young local Nirvanas and U2s play, usually at the Kingsbridge Inn over a number of weeks building up to regional finals.

Night Club and Disco Music

A number of night clubs/discos provide pop, dance, C&W etc. to suit all tastes young and older. Panama Jacks, Cosmos, Denim and Lace and occasional Town Hall Discos for the younger generation.

Castlebar Blues Festival

The biggest music event in Castlebar is the Whit Weekend Castlebar Blues Festival which in a typical year has over 70 gigs provided by over 20 bands at almost 30 venues around the town. The 1999 Programme is still available at on its web page together with lots of photographs of the bands participating. Shortly we hope to have exclusive online recordings of some of the live sessions.

Music on Radio

Music is also provided on CRC fm on 102.9 MHz with a wide range of musical choices presented by local music aficionados ranging from pop, dance and hip hop to big band, jazz and classical. Radio na Gaeltachta, based just down the road a bit in Connemara, provides a rich diet of traditional Irish music and also dips into the European music tradition from time to time. MWR (96.1 MHz) also provides a wide ranging musical choice with specialist music programming but has a definite preference for music with a country flavour. Of course Castlebar is also exposed to the best and the worst of 'all hit radio' with stations from Clare to Donegal and eastwards to Dublin available off-air in Castlebar.

Nationally, RTE provide RTE, 2FM and the excellent 24h Lyric FM station classical and arts channel (this has taken over from FM3 which previously shared wavelengths with RnG). Today FM (successor to Radio Ireland and Century Radio - the two previous alternative national stations) provides some exciting musical fare especially in the evenings from 7 pm onwards.

Should we mention the occasional pirate that pops up - especially, for some reason, during the school holidays? These are usually announced on the Castlebar Bulletin Board.

Music on Disc - Record and Music Shops

There are a number of record and music shops in Castlebar linked into international distribution channels so that it is possible to obtain virtually any recording desired even if it is not currently on the shelf in Castlebar. Three or four shops sell CDs and there are at least three selling musical instruments from tin whistles to guitars and wind instruments.

Traditional Irish Music in Castlebar

Traditional music, one of the key characteristics is thankfully alive and well in the Castlebar area. Caislean Aerach are a local group of young musicians under the leadership of traditional musician John Kilkenny and Cómhaltas Ceoltoiri Éireann. Each of these organisations promotes all aspects of Irish Culture through music, song and dance.

The success of this group is due to its key determination in keeping our culture alive. Success is evident, at Fleadh Cheoil and Slogadhs of the past years where each age group and ceili band reached high acclaim. The key motivation of learning Irish music is the enjoyment and the sense of reviving the Irish culture.

St. Angela's National School have an active Grúpa Ceoil who play at school concerts.

Again, pub sessions are an important aspect of traditional music in the West and Castlebar is not lacking in this respect. McCarthy's have a regular Monday night session, for example, and John Morans pub has a session on Friday nights.

Concert Band and the Mayo Youth Orchestra

Castlebar Concert Band and the Mayo Youth Orchestra is a joint organisation which fulfills two main roles, apart from its important social function - a) performance, and b) educational.

a) mounts concerts not only concerts in Castlebar, but around the county and on tour (e.g. Holland, France and Norway) and provides music on important occasions such as the St. Patrick's Day parade, presidential visits, Official Welcome Home to Mayo Football Team.

b) Provides lessons and group coaching to young players, including the loan of instruments where possible. It represents the main opportunity for young people in the town and the county to experience playing in ensembles and groups of various sizes, other than those dedicated to Irish traditional music, particularly those wanting to carry on with music at Third Level.

Various initiatives are currently under way to extend these opportunities in an area where there is little tradition of orchestral music, and a local shortage not only of actual instruments, but also qualified teachers. Details plans have been made, and a site is earmarked for a new Music Resource Centre, which will provide a rehearsal hall and smaller teaching and practice rooms. It is the intention that this should be equipped with all the most up to date facilities we can afford.

Concert Band and Mayo Concert Orchestra Web Site is at: . Later this year this site will stream realaudio recordings of their live concerts made specially for their web site.

Church Music in Castlebar

Church music is also thriving in Castlebar; from Handel to Folk Masses and inter-denominational choir services at Christmas - alternating between Christ Church on the Mall and the Church of the Holy Rosary. The high point of the lot has to be the Halleluiah Chorus sung without fail by the Castlebar Choral Society at the Vigil Mass on Easter Saturday evening. On a weekly basis Mass at 12:30 on Sundays is sung (accompanied by a fine pipe organ) and a Folk Choir sings and plays at 7:30 pm Mass on Saturday evenings in the Catholic Parish Church on Chapel Street.

What have we left out?

If this brief overview has prompted you to say "What about....???", then let us know - and give us your views on music in Castlebar - email them to We will either add them in here or put your piece up as a separate article.

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Copyright © CIAT. Created: 02 May 1997 Updated: 23 August 1997