Lynette Fay: Summer 2018 has been a brilliant mix of music and culture

Custom House Square, Belfast has been buzzing all week: Rag 'n' Bone Man, Kasabian, Kodaline and Travis headlined and, despite the weather, the crowds loved it

The Blackwater Céilí Band won the senior competition on Sunday night at the All Ireland Fleadh. Picture by Vaidotas Maneikis

EACH night I was there, the atmosphere was electric, the crowds were getting into the music, and yet again, it was evident why big names like coming to play in the city.

We were raincoat-clad, wearing trainers, dancing carefree in the rain and, in the case of the Travis gig, we were 20 again. The Man Who is almost 20 years old, and I was living in Scotland when it was released. I played it on repeat for months.

While at university I survived on a diet of Stereophonics, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Brian Kennedy, The Frames and The Stunning. My CD collection wasn’t vast, but I played every album I had to death.

Remember knowing an album off by heart from beginning to end? I’ll save that discussion for another day!

Music has the ability to bring us back to a particular time in our lives and can recapture a feeling, a moment and evoke memories.

The programmers of the Custom House Square gigs got it right for me. There was just the right amount of new music as there was nostalgia. Belfast City centre was buzzing on Monday night last week.

If I could have gone to two concerts in a night last week, I would have.

One of my favourite summer festivals finishes up tonight. Féile An Droichead has been running now for 10 years and, for me, it heralds the end of the summer months, and nods to the return of the routine in September.

An Droichead is an Irish language centre, based in the Ormeau Road and the arts officer there, Claire Kieran, always manages to book terrific musicians.

Two years ago, I hosted a magical and memorable night in the Ulster Museum which featured the music and storytelling of a group of West Kerry musicians, poets and writers who, along with Glen Hansard, had made the Camino pilgrimage to Galicia by boat.

Travis at Custom House Square earlier this week was just one great gig in a packed summer of music

On Thursday night, this little nugget of a festival served up another delight. Iarla Ó Lionaird and Steve Cooney beguiled the audience in the Lyric, while yesterday evening revellers were rocking out to Kodaline and Rag 'n' Bone Man in Custom House Square, tunes were flying in Maddens and Kelly's, and I’m sure there was a lot of live music to be heard elsewhere too.

Belfast is making a name for itself as a music city and it’s great to see.

I didn’t make it down to Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, the All Ireland Fleadh, in Drogheda last week, but would like to congratulate all the Ulster champions who represented the province at all levels from U12 right up to Senior level.

A special word of congratulations to The Blackwater Céilí Band who won the senior competition on Sunday night. If the social media footage is anything to go by, a mighty night of celebration followed the competition!

This band captures all that’s good about music for me: a group of good friends from all over Ulster got together and set themselves the challenge of winning the All Ireland – and they did!

Lynette Fay on a summer of music

They come from counties Monaghan, Down and Tyrone and are hugely talented and are great role models for younger musicians. Incidentally, they collectively represented Tyrone in the competition, so fingers crossed that’s an omen for next weekend.

Oh yes, next weekend the All Ireland football final will be played on the Sunday we usually settle down to watch the hurling final. It will take my body clock a while to get used to not counting down to the third Sunday in September.

Congrats to Limerick – that win was truly deserved and the tears of joy that flowed to the sound of the late Dolores O’Riordan’s dulcet tones blasting out across Croke Park after the full time whistle blew said it all, really. It was lovely to see the whole country celebrate with the people of Limerick.

Summer 2018 has been filled with music, travels, craic and wonderful sporting moments. I have loved every minute of it.

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