Margo O’Donnell may be ‘Donegal’ to the core but, in many ways, she is every county on the island of Ireland. There is not a parish from Rathlin island, off the Antrim coast, down to the Beara Peninsula, in Cork and Kerry, where she is not known and respected and where she would be a welcome caller to many doors.

The girl from Donegal enjoys a status on the country and Irish scene that reaches far beyond the recognition stakes. She resides in the hearts of so many people, a privilege she has shared with the ultimate legend of them all, the late great Big Tom McBride. Perhaps it is no wonder that Margo made her home in Castleblayney over two decades ago.

The country legend has been hinting at winding down her major shows in recent months and the two big ones remaining for 2024 in Mayo and Donegal could well be heralding the potential closure of one of the truly remarkable journeys in Irish showbiz history.

The Mayo show will be staged in the TF Royal Theatre in Castlebar on 26 July, while Margo will return to her beloved Donegal for the show in the Errigal Hotel in Letterkenny in October. That night will mark the 60th anniversary of her debut with the Donegal band, The Keynotes, when she was still a young teenager back in October 1964.

Warm reception

Fresh from her warm reception in the INEC in Killarney last weekend, Margo is now setting her sights on the shows ahead. “I made a promise many months ago that I wanted to do a special night in Mayo. There has always been a great bond between Donegal and Mayo people going back to the tatie-hoaking days in Scotland.

Country singer Margo O'Donnell.

“I have always had a huge following among Mayo people both at home and over in England where they flocked to my dances. I feel this night in Castlebar in July is going to be a truly special occasion.”

Tickets for the shows are now available from the venues.

The Cut Loose Country Music Festival

Derek Ryan, musician and singer.

The Cut Loose Country Music Festival in Holycross, Tipperary, has become a mainstay of the summer festival circuit for country aficionados over the last decade.

This year’s event will be held on Sunday, 14 July and will feature Derek Ryan, Michael English, Louise Morrissey, Stacey Breen, David James, Fran Curry and Muriel O’Connor, The Conquerors and trad-folk band, Ceól.

Celebrating its 11th year, the Cut Loose Festival has carved out its own special niche in the summer market and attracts a large and loyal clientele from many parts of the country who always enjoy the ‘trip to Tipp’.

A superb local voluntary committee oversees the top class stewarding; and patrons can park free of charge almost alongside the venue.

In the event of inclement weather, they have a fully covered stand along one side of the pitch which will accommodate all visitors.

The chair of the organising committee, Michael Lowry, says they are delighted to announce details of the 2024 festival and look forward to extending a warm welcome to all patrons.

“We’re thrilled to bring together this fine line-up of artists for what promises to be an unforgettable day of music. This event would not be what it is without the immense efforts of all our volunteers, which is an exceptional sight on the day,” says Michael.

• Tickets are available at For full details and lineup, visit cutloose

Tributes pour in for Crawford Bell

Crawford Bell, who died in April, commanded huge regard and respect on the music circuit. The Belfast-born singer and musician featured in the credits of numerous top entertainers including Daniel O’Donnell, Van Morrison, Nathan Carter and a variety of others from various musical genres.

An excellent exponent of the trumpet, Crawford (80) played with various showbands and backed some American country stars on their Irish tours.

Crawford Bell, who passed away in April 2024, was a Belfast born singer and musician, known for his excellent trumpet playing.

The news of his passing was received with great sadness, especially across Northern Ireland where he was held in such fond affection.

Nathan Carter described him as, “one of the nicest musicians I ever worked with and a true professional”.

Around two years ago, Crawford recorded a wonderful version of the old Bob Wills classic, Faded Love, along with Geri Keane, which was produced by Stephen Smyth at his studios in Portaferry.

A celebration of Crawford’s life was held in Carryduff Presbyterian Church, Co Down.

Galway Folk Festival

Declan O'Rourke playing at the Galway Folk Festival.

The folk revival continues to gain momentum around the country and this surge looks set to manifest itself in a special way when the Galway Folk Festival will be staged in the city from Wednesday, 5 June to Sunday, 9 June. The festival will showcase some of the best of folk, roots, and traditional music in venues across Galway city.

Festival director and programmer, Peter O’Sullivan, said they are thrilled to be back for the third year of the Galway Festival. “This year we have a broad programme which will appeal to a wide age range,” he says. “We’ve lots of exciting new talent as well as established names from the world of folk and trad.

“We have expanded our free entry daytime programme on the Saturday and Sunday of the festival, which is family friendly and a great way to involve people of all ages.”

Among the headliners are singer-songwriter Declan O’Rourke, Beth Orton, and contemporary folk trio Amble who are establishing a major following around the country.

Other well-known name include Eleanor Shanley and Mike Hanrahan, Seán Keane, Niall McCabe, Breen Rynne Murray, Cillian Vallely, Niamh Bury, the superb Foxford musician David Doocey, and many more.

Together with the ticketed shows, festival-goers can enjoy free daytime events across three stages.

• Tickets for all events can be purchased from

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