Irish comedian and TV presenter Patrick Kielty has been announced as the headliner for the Liverpool Irish Festival this October, as the cultural showcase goes online for 2020.

The 10-day festival celebrates the connections between Liverpool and Ireland and although this year’s event will be exclusively virtual, will still feature an exciting line-up of music, film, art and spoken word. 

Patrick Kielty headlines the programme on 17 October with a special event called ‘Hard Histories, Positive Futures’. He knows a thing or two about the devastating effects of The Troubles. His father was killed by paramilitary gunmen in 1988; he’s told jokes about both sides. In 2018, Patrick made the programme ‘My Dad, The Peace Deal and Me’ for the BBC, which looked at how the Good Friday Agreement was holding up 20 years on.

Here, he will interview representatives from Northern Ireland’s Commission for Victims and Survivors, exploring how we position the voice of survivors and victims and the road left to travel now the eyes of the world have moved on.

Other highlights of the festival include a night of music with Liverpool’s independent label Mellowtone, featuring performances from Seafoam Green, Simon Herron, Only Child, Kingfast and Motel Sundown. Meanwhile, Cork label and promoter, Unemployable Promotions, showcases some of their artists including Beyond the Wash, Mide Houlihan, Sarah Ryan, Briars and In The Willows. The event on Friday 16 October concludes with a live trad disco set from Comhaltas favourite DJ Paddy Callaghan. 

Liverpool Irish Festival In The Willows Folk Group

In The Willows

The Celtic Animation Film Festival, on 18 October, celebrates and champions new and emerging Celtic and international animators with a programme of short animations. Directors Kate Corbin and Eleonora Asparuhova will look back over the last three years and curate an evening that invites film fans to join an online watch party and Q&A.

In a play specially adapted for the online space, Mrs Shaw Herself, from Helix Productions, depicts the life of Charlotte Payne-Townshend, married to George Bernard Shaw and frequently overlooked. A remarkable woman, the one-woman play uses her diary entries to tell an unconventional Irish love story. Tickets for the online stream performance on 21 October cost £5.50 in advance; the event will be recorded and shared online with subtitles.

Colm and Laura Keegan, will host an online musical performance and watch party on Saturday 24 October that invites the virtual audience to shape live elements with interactive comments. Both Colm and Laura have performed with the Irish music group ‘Celtic Thunder’ and are international stars, running Scots-Irish castle tours and large music tours of the USA, including a private performance at the Pentagon. This event is held in partnership with the Liverpool Irish Centre and broadcast via StageIt.com 

In addition to the festival in October, visitors to the Museum of Liverpool can explore the story of the Liverpool Irish community all year round, with a self-guided trail that highlights unique and fascinating objects, people and stories. The trail covers our earliest links across the Irish Sea over 4000 years ago and explores how Irish people, culture and traditions continue to shape the social, political and economic history of the city. The free tour can be downloaded from the festival website or pick up a paper copy from the museum reception.

Liverpool Irish Festival 2020 takes place from 15 – 25 October. The full programme and how to participate in each event can be found at www.liverpoolirishfestival.com

Vicky M Andrews