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For a variety of reasons, not everyone in the community can get to the shows in guitartown, and during the pandemic, this number has only increased.

We want the impact of our festival to continue to reverberate throughout our town, so we are partnering with The Irish Wheelchair Association, Cope Foundation, Clonakilty Community Hospital, Scoil na mBuachaillí, Clonakilty Friends of Asylum Seekers and more for a series of concerts, livestreams and private cinema screenings across the week, some of which will be open to the public the majority of which will be private.



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John Spillane is a musician, songwriter, performer, recording artist, storyteller, poet and dreamer. Rooted in people, place and story, his music transports the listener and his live performances captivate audiences around the world. After 20 years, in April John released his first independent release; 100 Snow White Horses.

Inspired by his travels around Ireland, these new songs are full of poetry, Irish mythology and wonder. 100 Snow White Horses is John’s first independent album in 20 years.

Recorded in London with producer John Reynolds and singer Pauline Scanlon; the trio have previously worked together on John’s albums Hey Dreamer (2005), The Gaelic Hit Factory (2006) and My Dark Rosaleen and the Island of Dreams (2008).

“After 10 years and many adventures we are combining our skills and painting this, our masterpiece.” – John Spillane

100 Snow White horses was released on April 2nd 2021.

In addition, John will lead one of his legendary songwriting workshops tickets for that are available here



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Forty years on from when George Lowden first built an electric guitar, 2018 sees the introduction of the all new GL-10 electric.
George says: “My interest was revived through a request from an artist in 2016. I went away on a retreat to think through the design options. The first prototype exceeded my expectations in terms of visual appeal, balance and, in the guitar’s inherent design features, a natural ability to sustain without trying!”
The single cut pairs instantly recognisable Lowden characteristics and carefully crafted contours with unique design features finely tuned for that signature tone and sustain.
The GL-10 embodies classic Lowden character, drawing from over 40 years of guitar making heritage to invite the player to explore new tonal possibilities that await.


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George Lowdens right hand man Denis Currie gives a one stop shop on guitar maintenance at this years Festival

This will last approximately 45 minutes and cover the following topics: –

1. Why new guitars need set up
2. Poor factory setups – action
3. Proper stringing of the guitar and correct choice of strings
4. Choice of material for nut and saddle
5. Pickup choice for acoustics – LR Baggs and Fishman etc.
6. Adjusting nut and saddle height
7. Truss rod adjustment

The Mae Trio

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The Mae Trio are a young, contemporary folk band from Melbourne, Australia. Since the release of their critically acclaimed album “Housewarming” in 2013, they have made a vibrant splash in the international acoustic music scene across Australia, UK and America. This has included appearances at Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, Americana Music Festival in Nashville, Cambridge Folk Festival in England, Perthshire Amber Festival in Scotland and Woodford, Port Fairy and The National Folk Festivals in Australia.
Humbly authentic, dynamic and striking, the trio write powerful original songs, accompanying them on cello, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, guitar and ukulele and stunning three part harmonies. Their disarming on-stage presence and originality makes for a spellbinding and refreshing live experience.
2016 sees The Mae Trio embark on their first tour of Canada as well as the upcoming release of their Nashville-recorded, second full-length album.
So Far
When sisters Maggie and Elsie Rigby asked Anita Hillman to play the cello on an album they were recording with their family band in 2011, little did any of them know they were embarking on an adventure which would change their lives, cut short their university education and take them all over the world. One blackboard gig at the National Folk Festival led to another and before long they were playing at festivals all over the country.
In 2014 the girls made the decision to throw in the towel of their regular jobs/degrees/lives and pursue music full time. They started the year in spectacular fashion with a trip to Glasgow for Celtic Connections festival, followed by an appearance at MIDEM festival in Cannes and then finishing up with a visit to Kansas City for the Folk Alliance International Conference.

Awarded the National Film and Sound Archive Folk Recording of the Year and nominated for the Age Vic Music Award, their debut album “Housewarming” released in August 2013, produced by Luke Plumb (Shooglenifty) received remarkable attention both locally and internationally and has only further skyrocketed the band on the Australian and international stage.
The Trio have since released their EP, ‘September’ in 2015, complimenting their critically acclaimed first release and exploring their musical roots with covers of Dougie Maclean, The Wailin Jennys and Lorde mixed in with their original songs.
They have toured extensively across Australia both in cities and small towns including a three-month stint in regional QLD with Woodford Folk Festival’s, “The Festival of Small Halls.”

The Trio
Maggie Rigby
Banjo, guitar, ukulele, vocals and songs
Elsie Rigby
Fiddle, mandolin, ukulele, vocals and songs
Anita Hillman
Cello and vocals

Winners of the NFSA Folk Recording of the Year 2014
Winners of the Maton Class Act Award 2014
Winners of the Folk Alliance Australia Youth Award 2013
Lis Johnston Award for Vocal Excellence 2011
Nominated for The Age Music Victoria Awards Folk/Roots Album of the Year 2014 & 2015

“spine-tingling harmonies”
The Scotsman
“a delightful Australian girl group whom it is hard to fault…theirs is an innocent, clear-skinned sound that’s long on banjo, fiddle and ukulele”
Metro (Glasgow)
“The Mae Trio has made a meteoric mark on the national acoustic music scene”
“they belied their apparent youth with some fine songs and dry wit”
Americana UK
“The Mae Trio were easily the break-out act at Folk Alliance”
The Bluegrass Situation
“A favourite on the Aussie folk scene… definitely a trio to keep an eye and an ear (or two) out for”
Songlines UK

Tony McManus

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“a masterpiece” John Renbourn
“beyond beautiful… it’s PERFECT!” Tommy Emmanuel

To find a unique voice on so ubiquitous an instrument as the acoustic guitar is quite an achievement: to do so within a centuries old idiom where the instrument has no real history is truly remarkable.

Tony McManus has come to be recognised throughout the world as the leading guitarist in Celtic Music. From early childhood his twin obsessions of traditional music and acoustic guitar have worked together to produce a startlingly original approach to this ancient art. In Tony’s hands the complex ornamentation normally associated with fiddles and pipes are accurately transferred to guitar in a way that preserves the integrity and emotional impact of the music.

Self taught from childhood, initially through listening to the family record collection, McManus abandoned academia in his twenties to pursue music full time. The session scene in Glasgow and Edinburgh provided the springboard for gigs around Scotland and a studio set for BBC Radio, frequently rebroadcast, began to spread the word.

Tony’s first self titled recording in 1996, followed by Pourquoi Quebec in 1999 led to worldwide recognition. However, it was with the release of Ceol More in 2002 that Tony’s stature as a first class musician reached a new level. Critics hailed the focussed, spell-binding nature of the music, from the plaintive Jewish hymn “Shalom Aleichem” to the ingenious arrangement of the Charles Mingus classic “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”. Having been nominated as Musician of the Year by both the BBC Folk Awards and The Scottish Traditonal Music awards, in 2002 “Ceol More” hit the Critic’s Album of the year list in Acoustic Guitar magazine and named “Live Ireland Awards” Album of the Year.

Tony’s work has come to represent Celtic music in the guitar world, making regular appearances at guitar specific events where just a few years ago jigs and reels would be unheard of. He is invited annually to the Chet Atkins Festival in Nashville, has appeared at Guitar Festivals in Soave and Pescantina, Sarzana and Francacorta Italy; Frankston, Australia; Issoudun and Bordeaux France; Kirkmichael, Scotland; Bath and Kent, England; Bochum and Osnabruck, Germany. In 2004 he appeared at the famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville in the “All Star Guitar Night” featuring Steve Morse, Bryan Sutton, Muriel Anderson, Béla Fleck and Victor Wooten and headlined by the legendary Les Paul.

His ability to reach audiences unfamiliar with traditional music is remarkable- he is quite comfortable at predominantly classical events such as the Dundee and Derry Guitar Festivals (appearing six times between the two) the Uppsala Guitar Festival and even The Bogotá International Guitar Festival where he followed virtuoso Eduardo Fernandez.

Today his live work ranges from intimate solo performance through his trio with brothers Gary and Greg Grainger to the quartet Men of Steel (with fellow guitarists Dan Crary, Beppe Gambetta and Don Ross). He is an enthusiastic collaborator both as a leader and as a sideman having worked with, among many others Dougie McLean, Phil Cunningham, Mairi MacInnes, Liam O’Flynn, Martin Simpson, Kevin Burke, Alison Brown, Martyn Bennett, Natalie MacMaster, Patrick and Jacky Molard, Mairead ní Mhoanaigh and Dermot Byrne, The Nashville Chamber Orchestra, John Jorgenson, Jean Michel Veillon, Catriona Macdonald, Seikou Keita, Xosé Manuel Budiño, Ewen Vernal and Andy Irvine.
He is also in great demand as a studio musician having contributed to over 60 albums. In addition to his solo output Tony has worked with both singers and instrumentalists providing his distinctive sound on many successful projects.

His 2009 release “The Makers’s Mark” saw him showcase 15 of the finest luthier built guitars available. Recording a solo piece on each instrument, the project caught the attention of the mainstream rock guitar press in a way that acoustic work rarely does.

The following year, a chance hearing on Irish radio led to an invite to contribute music to the soundtrack of Oscar winning director Neil Jordan’s film “Ondine” starring Colin Farrell.

Never one to be typecast, Tony’s new album “Mysterious Boundaries” is his most ambitious to date. An encouraging challenge from mandolin virtuoso Mike Marshall to learn the Bach E Major Prelude on guitar led to an exploration of classical and baroque music – seemingly very different to the jigs and reels that he grew up with. By examining the boundaries between genres and sticking to his steel string guitar (rather than the conventional classical guitar) McManus has produced a work of great originality and beauty, hailed by his peers as
“a masterpiece” (Renbourn), “beyond beautiful… it’s PERFECT!” (Tommy Emmanuel) and which contains a truly remarkable rendition of Bach’s colossal Chaconne in D Minor – one of the greatest compositions of any age.

Whatever work McManus brings within his scope the listener is assured a journey into the depths of the music in the company of a great talent.


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Clonakilty International Guitar Festival is proud to present a programme of workshops, masterclasses and seminars from some of the world’s best performers and experts, giving us a glimpse of the methods and techniques which make them so successful. This year’s educational programme will take place in the Schools of Clonakilty (Closed) throughout the festival as well as open workshops right in the heart of town on Saturday & Sunday facilitated by Music Generation Limerick in upstairs in ‘The Twig Refill Shop- in Spillers Lane


9pm – Clonakilty Park Cinema – Workshop on Guerrilla Film Making with Myles O Riley

After the screening Director Myles O’Reilly will give a short workshop on live performance ‘Guerilla’ film making, followed by a Q&A. Topics will include:

* Positive reasons for choosing to be genre specific.
* Deciding on locations and visual narratives.
* Choice and use of equipment.
* The creative editing ethos.
* Social media promotion for music content.
* Building and maintaining regular client base.



12pm – Asna Square -Ukulele Le Cheile FREE

1pm – 5pm Upstairs at the Twig, Spillers Lane – Songwriting work shop Facilitated by Music Generation Limerick – these classes take place on the hour every hour and booking is in advance is suggested

5pm – DIALOGUE: PIERRE BENSUSAN & GEORGE LOWDEN IN CONVERSATION @THE VENUE, O’DONOVAN’S HOTEL. SAT// 5PM €5 – It’s 1978 and one of the world’s best young guitarists meets an Irish artisan on his way to becoming one the most respected luthiers on the planet. What happened next? George and Pierre look back on 40 years of friendship and creative collaboration, detailing Pierre’s “mad” design requests and co-evolution of George’s craft in dialogue with Pierre’s music. With some musical interludes and a Q&A, this is a must for fans of acoustic guitars and the characters who keep driving innovation in this ancient craft.


1pm JOHN SPILLANE SONGWRITING WORKSHOP @ UPSTAIRS AT TWIG REFILL SUN // 1pm // €5 – One of the most accomplished songwriters in the country today, award winning trad/folk poet John Spillane continues to redefine musical boundaries with his own unique style of playing and songwriting which he likes to call ’Sean Nós Blues’. BOOKING RECOMMENDED:

2:30pm TPM – HIP HOP & CREATIVITY WORKSHOP FOR TEENAGERS @ UPSTAIRS AT TWIG REFILL SUN // 2:30pm -Fresh from performing at Glastonbury & all the major Irish festivals, the hip-hop duo T.P.M. will lead a workshop in rap aimed at unlocking your creative flow.



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George Lowden is one of the world’s most celebrated luthiers, and his guitars are played by the finest players on the planet. The list of Lowden devotees includes Eric Clapton, Pierre Bensusan, Paul Brady, Ed Sheeran, Damien Rice, Alex DeGrassi, Richard Thompson, Mike Oldfield, Nick Harper, Jon Gomm, Bill Shanley and Thomas Leeb. George is an old friend of the festival, having given numerous seminars and workshops over the previous 14 years. As we celebrate our fifteenth year, George is celebrating his forty fifth in the business!


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Ukulele-le-chéile is part community group, part artistic movement which exists to get people of all ages and levels of musical ability playing the world’s easiest instrument: the ukulele! Established by The West Cork Ukulele Orchestra and run with infectious enthusiasm by Christine Deady & Isobel Towse, the songs and the tuition you need to get up and strumming are provided, picking popular but simple tunes to work on. In this welcoming and light-hearted environment you’ll be surprised at just how quickly you pick up all the skills you need, just bring a uke and join in!


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Sat 11pm  – 5pm

Songwriting & Music creation workshops with the Music Generation team.

The jolly crew from the treaty city return to this years Clon guitar fest to preside over free workshops for kids covering songwriting arranging and recording.  Bring an instrument and enthusiasm!  Workshops will start on the hour. for bookings info contact  Class numbers are limited