Here is the first of our two videos from the Return to London Town festival where Folk superstars Altan ensured the newly relocated Return to London Town festival announced itself in Cricklewood with a memorable night of music. After London-based trad group Nóta, forged in local trad sessions, opened the show, Altan took to the stage in front of a Crown Clayton Hotel that was so packed, the hotel had to bring in extra chairs to cater for them. The first night of the festival would climax with Altan’s lead vocalist Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh inviting festival director and fiddle player Karen Ryan onstage along with Nóta for the night’s highlight.
Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh told The Irish World on the night: “London’s always great. There’s so many Irish here who understand the music and so many musicians in the audience so I really loved it.
“There’s always a great appreciation. They listen, you don’t have to explain much at all to anyone because they all know their music very well. You have the richness here, from every part of Ireland living here for years and there is a sort London style of music here now which is very traditional and long may it live.
“Do you know the best part of it all? The young people playing before us Nóta. I think that’s what we have to encourage because we were all encouraged to play and it’s really important to let that other generation play too. It was a great, great atmosphere. I love this new venue too, it really suits and we’re all under the one roof. Karen is doing Trojan work.”
A full day of sessions and instrument workshops on Saturday came to a climax with a concert that saw TG4 Gradam Ceoil Young Musician of the Year Conor Connolly, The Mulachy Family, Eileen O’Brien, Johnny Óg Connolly, Clíodhna Costello, Padraig O Dubhghaill, Noel Hill and Brian McGrath all take to the stage.
Michelle Mulcahy said: “The atmosphere is so great here, there’s such an appreciation for Irish traditional music and the heritage and culture here. It’s always a treat to play in London.”
Louise Mulcahy added: “It’s great to see the younger generation coming up and the wonderful standard of Irish traditional music that’s here. In the classes, we had wonderful fabulous piping. Tomorrow there’ll be some flute playing and Michelle had wonderful concertina players as well. It’s from all ages and such a lovely atmosphere that is created here this weekend.”
Mick Mulcahy commented on the Irish roots of the festival’s new home: “London is always great for musicians. I worked here in the 60s and played at the Galtymore with musicians like Raymond and Oliver Roland. It’s lovely to be here.”