Athy: end of a Chapter 

Following our recent report about the Athy Bluegrass Festival in Ireland, we now learn that organizer, Tony O’Brien, has decided that the 25th anniversary festival will be the last.

In an open letter, O’Brien, who was the chief organizer of the Athy Bluegrass Festival for the past 18 years, says this about his decision  …..

Tony O'BrienNovember is the month we bluegrassers look back at the year that was and start to plan for next year. This year we celebrated the 25th bluegrass festival in Athy and with a special show on the Sat to remember absent friends I reflected on the past 25 years of the festival.

I have come to the decision to wind up the festival and park the memories of 25 great years. I had made and lost some great friends during that time and it was the death of one such friend Bill Andrews that finally made my mind up to close the chapter on The Athy Bluegrass Festival.

Running a festival takes a lot of time and energy not to mention the financing of the event. Over the past few years sponsorship and grants were more difficult to obtain and our audience was not increasing enough to cover the financing of headline bands from the US or Europe.

To fill the gap, Woodbine will host 2 concerts on the same weekend in July with support band on each night. This will take place on Friday 8th and Saturday 9th July, 2016, with a pickin’ session on Saturday afternoon, venues to be confirmed.

I wish to thank all our loyal fans who supported us over the years and look forward to you still supporting the Woodbine shows and making many more new and happy memories over the coming years.

Looking forward to 2016,


O’Brien has been the chief organiser for the last 18 years during which the Athy Bluegrass Festival has been staged.

He deserves our praise and grateful thanks for all the tremendous work that he done to keep the festival going.

We acknowledge Richard Hawkins’ assistance in drawing our attention to this news.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.