1st Inaugural National NZ Irish Fest set for this November

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For the first time, this November, Kiwis and Irish will come together to celebrate everything Irish with a massive four-day celebration - with over sixty events, across three cities, as part of the inaugural NZ Irish Fest.

With over 600, 000 Kiwis claiming Irish heritage, it’s set to be a celebration unlike anything we have seen before.

From the 15th – 18th November, three celebrated songwriters will travel from Ireland to play shows in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch alongside Irish comedians, local musicians & much more.

The international acts headlining this year’s festival are the iconic Damien Dempsey from Dublin, award winning songwriter Mick Flannery from Cork, songstress Lisa O’Neill from County Cavan and comedians Alan McElroy (Dublin) and Darren Jardine (Belfast).

Damien Dempsey is well known for delivering one of the most powerful live shows of any artist in Ireland today. Labelled by Brian Eno as his favourite current Irish artist and as “one of Ireland’s great singer-songwriters” by The Guardian (London). How do you describe Damo’s music? Take some reggae, fuse it with traditional Irish music, add in rock and folk and put it all through a grounded working class worldly aware yet caring consciousness, and you’re some bit of the way to describing it. With fans that include Brian Eno, Sinéad O’Connor, Bob Dylan and U2 and Morrissey, Damo’s albums have topped the charts and gone Platinum and he has been lauded by Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Billboard, MOJO and The Sunday Times.

Mick Flannery & Lisa O’Neill are joining forces at the festival this year for what is set to be an Irish songwriting feast. Flannery is widely regarded as one of the finest singer-songwriters to come out of Ireland in recent years. An award winning- double platinum selling artist, Mick has released five albums to date – including two number ones. He became the first Irish musician ever to win the International Songwriting Competition in Nashville. His critically acclaimed live performances have seen him sell out shows in Ireland’s Olympia Theatre and Cork Opera House.

Lisa O’Neill’s unique folk sound and strong song writing has seen her hailed by the Guardian as “One of Ireland’s most original singers. Her singular voice, witty lyrics & observations on modern Irish life have gained her great popularity and set her apart as a unique talent. Lisa has released three records and has spent the past two years touring the world supporting Glen Hansard and the Divine Comedy.

NZ Irish Fest will also see the premiere of four Irish Films in NZ and marks the very first Irish Film Festival. The first film announced is ‘Making The Grade’, which had its North American premiere at SXSW earlier this year. ‘Making the Grade’ is a documentary from Irish filmmaker Ken Wardrop about the journey many students in Ireland take: learning to play piano. Support from Culture Ireland means Director Ken Wardrop will attend the NZ Irish Fest to host Q&A sessions after the screenings and lead directing workshops geared towards filmmakers.

On a local front, each city will see over five local Irish acts, coming together to celebrate all that we love about Ireland in New Zealand! These will include traditional Irish sessions that can be seen in Irish pubs all around Ireland. Flutes, fiddles, bodhrans and accordions will transport you to a Galway pub in an instant.

As if a massive line-up of music, comedy, dance and film wasn’t enough, the festival wouldn’t be complete without an ode to the Irish love of sport! Not to be missed are the Gaelic Football exhibition games featuring national sports identities, with the Wellington game featuring ex All White Ben Sigmund, and a cameo appearance by Wellington Mayor, Justin Lester.

The fourth and final day of the festival includes the much anticipated All Blacks Vs Ireland rugby game at Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road in Dublin on Sun the 18th of November at 8am (NZ Time). The game will be shown at participating venues with breakfast events taking place around the country.

The festival has been lovingly curated by Gerry Paul, an Irish born Kiwi who whilst calling NZ home, has lived in Ireland for over 20 years and played with some of the biggest names in Irish music including Sharon Shannon and NZ/Irish band Gráda. While directing the music for the Irish President’s State visit in 2017, Gerry noted the joy when the Irish community united to celebrate Irish culture. He decided it was time for an annual event. He is joined by impresarios Paul Brown (Coastella) and Johnny Gibson (Nostalgia Festival) to deliver the largest Irish celebration New Zealand has seen.

The timing of NZ Irish Fest is suitably appropriate with the appointment of Ambassador Peter Ryan as the first resident Ambassador of Ireland to New Zealand (commencing 31st Aug 2018). The festival has partnered with the Irish Embassy and Culture Ireland, the Irish State Agency established to promote and advance Irish Arts internationally, who have awarded a grant to cover travel for all Irish artists attending.

Grab your pint of Guinness or a Bushmills Irish Coffee, your dancing shoes, your friends and family and come together to celebrate the best of Irish culture over 4 massive days - the best craic to be had in NZ!

2018 NZ Irish Fest - November 15th – 18th 2018

Tickets on sale now. Available through www.ticketmaster.co.nz

Full Programme & More info available at www.nzirishfest.co.nz and https://www.facebook.com/NZIRISHFEST