Traidphicnic gets ready for a 5th successful music festival - 1st - 3rd July 2016

Setting up, funding and organising traditional music festivals is a demanding business. It requires the input of a large, and voluntary backroom staff, that each year dedicate a significant amount of their own time to its success. Funding festivals is always a critical issue. The recent cutbacks by the Arts Council, to traditional festivals in particular, is significant. Overall funding is down by over 40%, with a number of festivals this year missing out.

Arts funding, in its various forms, is critical to a festival and bridges the gap between money raised and the actual cost of staging the event.  This year Traidphicnic in Spiddal, Galway celebrates 5 years, and they make a year long commitment to raise funds. We spoke to committee member Bridge Barker about their work. She say says that Traidphicnic was born in a recession, and they are quite proud to be heading into their 5th year. “It hasn't been easy” she says, “and you do put in a lot of voluntary time every day, all year round. Passion and drive is required to get you through.”

“In the beginning I was, and still am passionate about accessibility for all, to a festival of this type. I think too, that our unique access ethos of  'donate what you can' is catching on. No box office, no tickets, just buckets with fantastic volunteers collecting during the weekend. We have had 4 years with great volunteers getting us through.”

During the year they receive fantastic support from the surrounding businesses and community. “I'm sure people, when they see you coming, think, ‘here we go, what does Bridge want us to do now?' We have waxed bodies, worn pyjamas, organised fashion shows, busked, and boogied. The adults now have their Oíche Boogie, and our annual Dushlan Damhsa – a dance off where locals learn to sean-nós or Irish dance, and battle it out on the dancefloor for a sponsored prize.   It’s one of the funniest nights. We don’t take ourselves too seriously which helps.”

They also receive great support from local businesses who take out those crucial ads,  and sponsor their festival programme, raffle prizes, provide venues for fundraisers, along support in kind from Ceardlann Spiddal Craft Village , Studio Cuan , Colaiste Chroí Mhuire, and Raidió na Gaeltachta and others. There is also the balancing act of keeping the musicians/artists on hold and up to date with events, especially where funding is concerned.

We asked Bridge about their festival in 2015. Firstly she gave due credit to fellow committee members Sara Howlin, Liam Collins and Steve Sweeney. “You don’t actually get to sit and enjoy the Traidphicnic, and if you do, it’s not for long.  There is a lot of running around, behind the scenes. Last year, even though we were promised bad weather we ended up having three beautiful days. The programme was packed, with a great line up of gigs on our outdoor stage, along with lots of family focused events. We had our usual workshops and masterclasses, but for those that might not have such an interest in traditional music, or want to take a break from the gigs, you could go on a guided walk, have a go at a potter’s wheel, learn how to juggle, spin wool, weave, see how a fiddle is made, make jewellery, explore in Spiddal and lots more. The whole weekend is a blur of memories and high points, too many to mention."

The video below, which has just been released, provides some insight into last years festival, and you can find out more by visiting

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