The film, which will cover the life and times of Mayo’s most famous son and leader of the Land League, is the brainchild of Irish musician Donal Maguire and film maker Paul Vernon Lydiate. The special concert, which features a host of award-winning musicians, includes performances from Debbie Garvey, Steve Johnston, Dónal Maguire, Mike McGoldrick, Emma Sweeney and special-guest, singer Dick Gaughan.
Maguire decided to embark on the project because he felt a film on Davitt’s part in Irish history is long overdue, and because his own path often crossed that of the historical figure: “Davitt lived in Haslingden when his family moved here from Mayo, which is where I am living at present. My first London address in Battersea, as a student, was across the road from where Davitt lived during his brief spell as an elected MP. I seem to have been chasing him all my life thus the name of the film project has been selected as ‘Chasing Michael Davitt’.
“We feel that Davitt’s part in the course of Irish history is largely underplayed, and we hope to highlight the remarkable contribution he made not only through his work with the Land League but as a social reformer generally,” he said.
The concert and film boast a significant number of musicians with Mayo connections. Fiddle player Emma Sweeney’s father comes from Charlestown, flute player Mike McGoldrick’s grandfather comes from just outside Castlebar. Accordion player Debbie Garvey’s father comes from Roscommon and her partner’s family hails from Mayo too, as does the grandfather of Scots singer Dick Gaughan. Banjo player Donal Maguire comes from Drogheda.
The Gala concert will kick-start Manchester’s annual Irish Festival, which is now in its 17th year. The 17-day festival, which includes over 200 events at 80 different venues, runs until Sunday, March 18, and is one of Europe’s biggest celebrations of Irish culture.
Tickets for the concert are just £10, and the event starts at 8.15pm. For information about the concert log onto www.manchesteririshfestival.co.uk.
ARTS Manchester concert in aid of Michael Davitt film