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Tradfest: In the Blood – Kilfenora Ceili Band

Director: John O'Donnell

Duration: 50 mins Colour| 2009


In The Blood tells the story of a band which died and came back back to life, twice! Since their formation in 1909 The Kilfenora Ceili Band have won numerous awards and made many recordings along with hosting a variety of ceilis, concerts and television appearances both at home and abroad. But, most importantly, this eclectic group of musicians have managed, many times against the odds, to keep a tradition not just alive but alive and kicking!

Directed by John O’Donnell, this engaging documentary explores The Kilfenora Ceili Band, both past and present and looks at how their music evolved from the fife and drum band of the 1800s into the brass and reed at the turn of the century before eventually settling into a ten piece band of wind and string instruments. This has all formed part of the present band’s musical tapestry and rich legacy, which the players of many generations are determined to maintain through passion, perseverance and pathos as they celebrate their centenary.

The film follows current members from their workplaces to their homes, from band practices to high profile performances in the US and finally to the recording studio as they prepare to record their anniversary album. Some of the older members give accounts of the house dances of the 1930s and the heyday of Ceili bands in the 1950s when they played to massive crowds at the Fleadh Cheoils and packed out dancehalls all over Ireland and England where they went to play during Lent.

With contributions from such well-respected musicians and broadcasters as PJ Curtis and Kieran Hanrahan this documentary gives a true flavour of the importance of ceili music and celebrates its survival in our often impatient and quickly changing modern environment.

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