The big comeback of the Sligo Live Festival saw sold-out gigs across the board, with festival co-producer Rory O’Connor saying it was their most successful year to date.
eating up a huge line-up including Irish artists such as singer-songwriters Paul Brady and Gavin James, stand-up legends Tommy Tiernan and Dylan Moran, and even international superstar and former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant, event organizers say its success has surpassed any year since its founding in 2005.
“We were able to prepare an invoice that even exceeded our best expectations. In the case of Tommy Tiernan and Paul Brady, it became clear early on that we could run a second show every night,” Rory said.
“Getting Robert Plant was a dream and our co-producer Willie Kelly had been working on it since before the pandemic. It was a slow process and we didn’t know if it was going to happen.
“Robert Plant has put together a fun band with Saving Grace and he’s played a few small venues in Ireland.
“Willie struck up a relationship with his agent and they exchanged dozens of emails before he finally said okay. As soon as the tickets went on sale, they sold out.
Although there was a shortened version of the festival last year, it was the first year that it returned to the same level of activity over two weekends as previous years and Rory says they have been blown away by the appetite for live music. and events across Sligo.
“Every concert sold out, every ticket was gone before the festival started, which was amazing and had never happened before,” he said.
“We had a big advantage this year because Sligo County Council and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media provided us with a Covid start-up grant.
“We used funding from the Sligo Arrivals section for Sligo Live, originally we weren’t going to do it this year, but it has allowed us to expand it to Grange, Rosses Point and Strandhill.”
The Sligo Live Arrivals Music Trail was a series of free-entry concerts that focused on showcasing some of the best emerging talent with gigs taking place in cafes and bars around town and across the county.
“We haven’t usually extended it before, the festival was usually confined to the city and that allowed us to expand, which we hope to do more of in the future,” Rory said.
“Throughout all the arrivals gigs there were great bands like Farah Elle and Seba Safe and everyone was so keen to play Sligo because it’s known as such a music hub.
“These kinds of concerts were very accessible and enjoyable for people. On Monday I was at three concerts: Hugh Feely at Ósta Café, Labhras at the Thomas Connollys pub and Bog’s Bodies at Bree’s in Strandhill.”
Rory says all paid concerts sold out with around 8,000 tickets sold and he estimates another 4,000 people would have attended the 26 free concerts which were staged at different locations.
“In total that’s around 12,000 people in attendance, but you have to factor in a woman who has been to 17 Sligo Live events and people like Colin Gillen who is making our festival video which will be out in the next few months,” he said. he declared.
All of this taken together serves to bring much needed energy to Sligo as the days continue to get colder and shorter, attracting tourism and boosting the local economy.
“Restaurants and pubs said they had two weekends booked and things went really well. Sligo needs more of that kind of stuff, people sticking together.
To add to the music and comedy on the bill, Sligo Live have also started to engage in literary events after hosting the launch of Tommie Gorman’s memoir book ‘Never Better’ at Hawk’s Well Theatre.
“We’ve done a bit of literary stuff in the past, but the Tommie Gorman book launch was a real Sligo occasion,” Rory said.
“The clue is in the name, Sligo Live started out as a music festival but there is a huge appetite for a mix of different events.
“With a relatively small population base compared to other parts of the country, we need to reach out and provide variety for people.”
Rory wished to highlight stand-up and local Ballisodare comedian John Colleary in particular as one of the most exciting acts of the entire festival.
John, who has written and starred on TV shows such as Savage Eye and Irish Pictorial Weekly, was Tommy Tiernan’s starring role in his two sold-out Knocknarea Arena nights.
“I will say Tommy Tiernan was brilliant but the unsung hero was John Collerary he was the supporting act but he’s doing his own show next year and we can’t wait he absolutely killed it with the audience the two nights,” Rory said.
Charity partners for this year’s festival were the Neurology Support Centre, based at Molloway House next to Sligo University Hospital, and Rory says it was great to be able to provide a place for attendees to donate to the service that provides support to neurological patients. and their families throughout the department.