of Music at St. Barrahane's Church

tel. +353 (0)28 33752 / +353 (0)86 226 4797  Jacqueline Weij

St. Barrahane's Church of Ireland Castletownshend,

(8 km from Skibbereen)

Co. Cork, P81 AH51


Supported by:

Cork County Council/PureCork and others.

The History of the Festival



Purpose of the Festival:

1. to create performance opportunities for high quality classical music

2. enjoyment of music for locals and tourist,

3. platform for young artists.



The Festival of Classical Music was started in 1980 and has taken place annually ever since, in the historic little Church of St. Barrahane's, Castletownshend, Co. Cork. The First Festival was with Andrew Padmore, organist of St. Finbarr's Cathedral and as page-turner the then about 19 year old, now Bishop of Cork, Cloyne & Ross, Paul Colton.

The idea of a Festival to support the Church building came from Micheal Sokolov Grant who was inspired by the Aldeborough Festival. He was the Festival's first chairman and brought Angela Eborall in as secretary.

Built in 1826 the Church contains a medieval oak alter-piece of great antiquity and many fine stained glass windows, notably three by the renowned Irish artist, Harry Clarke. The writer and artist, Dr. Edith Somerville, who played the organ for seventy years, is buried in the Church grave yard alongside her cousin, Violet Martin, with whom she formed the partnership of "Somerville & Ross".

The Festival has become increasingly popular with visitors and tourists.


Amongst the distinguished musicians to have played for us have been the RTE Vanbrugh String Quartet, the Crawford Piano Trio, Dr. John O'Conor - paino, Dr. Geraldine O'Grady - violin, Professor Gerard Gillen - organ, of Maynooth College, Peter Sweeney - former Organist of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, David Agnew - oboe, Philip Martin - piano and composer, Denise Kelly - harp, Professor Micheal O'Suilleabhain, Limerick University, Jonathan Freeman-Attwood - trumpet, Director of the Royal Academy of Music London, Cara O'Sullivan - soprano, Brigid Knowles - contralto, Catherine Leonard - violin, Honor O'Hea - piano, Ioana Petcu-Colan - violin and many more.


Platform for young musicians:

The Festival has given a platform to many young students from the Cork School of Music.

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood who became Director of Studies of the Royal Academy of Music London,

Ioana Petcu-Colan, Catherine Leonard, Nicky Sweeney, Eoin Ducrot, Cian Ducrot, Conor Palliser, Elaine Kelly,

Caoimhe De Paor, Siún Milne, Tríona Milne, Tom O Drisceoil, Sophie Creaner,

Brendan Garde, Ed Creedon, Aoife Burke