Irish and Celtic Music Festival 2019: All the sights and sounds

It's very hard to listen to Irish music and not tap your foot.

Those were the words of the Ambassador of Ireland to Australia Breandan O Caolla at the launch of the Irish and Celtic Music Festival last weekend.

Hundreds of people travelled to the festival, now in its second year.

The town's accommodation was booked out and the festival relied on locals to host the 100-plus performers.

Michael and Jane Cotter travelled from Berrima in the Southern Highlands to catch the weekend festivities.

Both of their grandfathers were from Ireland and Mr Cotter wore a fetching tartan from County Mayo for the event.

Festival organiser Janno Scannes was thrilled with how the weekend went.

"It's been truly amazing," she said.

"Everyone had such a good time. We had a wonderful team of volunteers from all over. It went very smoothly."

Australia is a second home for Irish people, with one of the largest populations outside of Ireland.

The Irish Ambassador, Mr O Caolla said Irish festivals were growing in Australia.

"I love seeing Irish festivals. They're a great sign of vitality and what we can contribute," he said.

"They also bring people into the region, so the community wins."

Irish free settlers were among the first people to live in Yass.

That history lives on today and is one of the reasons for the festival.

Local resident and Yass Valley Council's strategic planning manager Liz Makin is the descendant of an Irish orphan girl.

Briget Fahy travelled to Australia aged 17.

"They arrived in 1850 and walked from Sydney to Yass. She married an Irish farmer who had settled here," Mrs Makin said.

"I feel a very strong connection and if I'm having a bad day, I always think how difficult it would have been for her."

Yass resident Bridget Breen Guiney met her husband in an Irish pub in Sydney in the early 2000s.

A few years later, while married and living together in Ireland, the financial crisis hit.

Fond memories of their time in Australia brought them back and John Guiney found a job in Yass.

"The first year I arrived here was the first year of the festival, so I thought they put it on for me! It makes me feel like I'm at home," Mrs Breen Guiney said.

"County Cork, where I'm from in Ireland, has a population of about 6,000, so it's very similar to Yass."

The festival's musicians, dancers and poets took over the parks, streets, pubs, hotels and community halls for the weekend.

Headlining this year's festival was the Irish National Association's Musician in Residence Aisling Vaughan from County Cork, Ireland.

There was a strong crowd wherever Ms Vaughan played across the weekend.

The Junior Fleadh, a free Irish music and dance workshop at Mount Carmel School, was also a success.

Around 20 children learnt alongside folk music duo Ben and Chloe Hurley, fiddler Alison Bailey and the school's principal Michael Green.

Festival organiser Ms Scannes said the event will be "amazing" again next year.

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