Swell 2017 News & Updates


Send us your Swell Memories

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We want to keep the buzz from this year’s Swell weekend going all the way into next year and for that, we would love your help!

It was such a beautiful weekend on Arranmore and with all the fun-filled festivities no doubt many of you took some amazing pictures at this year’s Swell Music & Arts Festival and we would love to see them.

Send us your favourite photos from this year’s Swell and, with your permission, we would love to share them over the coming year.

No doubt, you also have some great stories from the weekend to tell us. Who was your favourite act? What was your favourite moment? Did you go exploring the island and caught the sunrise by lighthouse? We would love to hear your stories!

Send an email with the Subject: Swell Memories to and send your favourite Swell 20017 photos and stories.

We look forward to hearing from you and thank you all for continuing to support Swell Music & Arts Festival. Go raibh mile maith agaibh!


Parking restrictions in Burtonport this weekend

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This weekend’s Swell Music & Arts Festival on Arranmore coincides with the beginning of the 41st annual Burtonport Festival.

Parking will therefore be limited in the pier area and car park and some areas will be closed due to ongoing festival proceedings.

We recommend that patrons attending our festival try to arrive in Burtonport as early as possible to find suitable and safe parking for your motor vehicle.

Please respect the Burtonport community and do not leave your vehicle in a location that may cause an obstruction to local traffic.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish the organisers of the Burtonport Festival (July 21 to 29) all the very best for their annual week-long festivities.

For anyone interested in attending this year’s Swell Music & Arts Festival that full weekend and day passes are selling very, very fast and we are nearing full capacity. So be sure to purchase your tickets as soon as possible!

There are also important details you need to know about the ferries here. Thank you all for your continued support, we look forward to seeing you at this year’s Swell Music & Arts Festival! It’s going to be an amazing weekend!


More Islander tickets allocated as a ‘Thank You’

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We are thrilled to announced that have just sold out all the special rate tickets that were allocated for Islanders.

We thank you all so much for the phenomenal support you have shown this festival on your beautiful home island of Arranmore.

As a ‘thank you’ and a token of our appreciation to the Arranmore community, a very limited amount of additional Islander tickets will be made available on the basis first come, first served.

You can purchase your Islander tickets at Early’s Bar, by contacting Jerry Early on Mobile 0878054246 or by sending a direct message to the Early’s Bar Facebook page. Don’t forget, there is only a very limited amount of additional Islander tickets, so purchase them quickly!

If you do miss out on the Islander tickets, we would still love to see many of you at the festival as your support is very important to us. Day passes will still be available on the website. We thank you all for your understanding and support.

We would like to stress to all others still interested in attending this year’s Swell Music & Arts Festival that tickets are selling very, very fast and we are nearing full capacity. So be sure to purchase your tickets as soon as possible!

Thank you all for your continued support, we look forward to seeing you at this year’s Swell Music & Arts Festival! It’s going to be an amazing weekend!


Make sure to book your ferries!

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We very fortunate that there are two great ferry services providing transport to and from Arranmore island where Swell Music & Arts Festival takes place this weekend.

Here is some very important information regarding the ferry services which we ask that you read thoroughly to ensure that you trip runs smoothly with either Arranmore Ferry (Red Ferry) or Arranmore Fast Ferry (Blue Ferry) to Arranmore and back to Burtonport

Late Ferries on Sunday night/Monday morning
Foot passengers generally do not need to book a place with either company. However, both companies have kindly put on additional ferries to accommodate those who wish to leave the island on Sunday night/Monday morning.

If you want to leave the island at 11pm on Sunday, you need to book with Arranmore Fast Ferry (Blue Ferry). If you want to leave at 2am on Monday morning you must book with Arranmore Ferry (Red Ferry). We stress again that this also applies to foot passengers wanting to leave the island.

Bringing your motor vehicle
Should you wish to bring your motor vehicle, you must book your crossing with one of the ferry companies, to AND from Arranmore to guarantee your place, otherwise you may be delayed.

Parking is at your own risk. There is no parking available on site and any vehicles causing obstruction will be moved as we must respect the needs of islanders, as well as ensuring that emergency vehicles have access, if required.

We are very grateful to both ferry companies for their assistance every year with Swell Music & Arts Festival. We look forward to seeing you all on Arranmore this weekend. Tickets can still be purchased here.


Mark Geary digs deep to make magic

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As he prepares to release his eagerly-anticipated fifth studio album, popular Irish singer/songwriter Mark Geary is set to perform at Ireland’s best kept festival secret, Swell Music & Arts Festival on Arranmore Island off the coast of County Donegal.

The songwriter has just returned from a ten-day tour on the west coast of North America, starting the promotion of his new album The Fool, which is due for release in October.

Mark is no stranger to playing intimate venues around the States having lived in New York for several years in the 1990s from where he honed his craft as both a performer and songwriter.

“I was in Vancouver, Seattle and Portland for about ten days, slowly starting to bang on the drum to promote the new album and it was a real boost in the arm to play these new songs.

“It’s a lovely feeling, having a new body of work looking forward to an audience hearing them for the first time,” said Mark.

Mark loves having the luxury of being able to play new material while on tour. “Something happens with them on the road and when you go back into the studio you can recreate what they felt like when you faced the audience and committed to the song.

“I was very fortunate that I got to tour the States with my music very early in my life and always had myself pegged as a travelling musician turning up in a small town with the purpose of singing for the people, and I have continued to do that.

“A lot of bands and artists live in a van for years and just continue their extensive touring. What that does for you as a musician is, you really get your armor, it becomes so much more than trying to find an audience, it does something to you.

“You get so much better, even thought you haven’t slept properly, the muscle memory starts to happen on stage and it becomes very uncomplicated and you’re on a very different mind set.”

Irish music fans first took note of Mark when he returned to Ireland to perform his song Volunteer on a then new television series that had been developed for RTÉ Television, called Other Voices.

He said: “I had left Ireland on a one-way ticket and was living in New York when Glen (Hansard) asked me to come back and do this show.

“I’ll be honest, I had never even been to Dingle. It is only because of music that I got to go there and later would get to tour all of Ireland with my first album 33 ⅓ Grand Street.”

Having now toured all over Ireland for many years, this will not be the first time Mark performs on an Irish island, either, as he gets set to play at the not-for-profit festival on Arranmore.

“I played Inishboffin in the Arran Islands before. There’s something very potent about islanders, in general; We are islanders ourselves, and truly unique in that regard.

I remember coming back to Ireland and found myself in places like Dingle, West Cork or Letterkenny and being struck by the fact that the town’s night’s entertainment was you! The whole village would be out to see you for an evening of song and chat and I remember thinking I would really have to up my game from the sets I had to do in New York.

“I knew I would have to dig deep to make it magic. And maybe the challenge here in Ireland is the fact that there’s so much talent. You’re performing in a small room and suddenly a woman in the audience, who normally just works in an office, is singing the most beautiful harmony.”

“I’m sure that’s all multiplied on a little island off the coast of Donegal. There are people and personalities there, and they are just as important as you.”

Mark Geary and his band play Swell Music & Arts Festival which takes place on on Arranmore Island, Co Donegal from July 21 to 23. For all the latest news on Mark Geary go to; Tickets for Swell Festival are available at


Frequently asked questions on Swell Festival

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As this year’s Swell Music & Arts Festival quickly approaches, we have been getting a lot of queries by those attending and interested in coming, so we have put together some frequently asked questions (FAQs) that will hopefully assist you!

It’s a beautiful day in Donegal today and we hope it continues all the way into next week. Have you got your tickets for Swell, yet? Click here and book them now and come enjoy an amazing weekend on Arranmore!

Are day tickets available?
YES! Day tickets are available to purchase from the website.

I am under 18, can I come to the festival alone?

NO! All under 18’s must be accompanied by an adult over 25 years of age with a valid ticket.

Do children have to buy a ticket?

All children under 12 years of age are permitted FREE ENTRY to the festival providing they are accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket.

Can I light a fire or BBQ on the campsite or anywhere on the island?

NO! We would ask that you don’t light any fires anywhere on the island in respect for the generosity of the locals for allowing us to have our festival on their beautiful island. You are permitted to use a disposable BBQ in the campsite but you must tidy it up afterwards and refrain from littering.

What time does the festival finish each night?
The main scheduled acts finishes at midnight each night but they will be some pre-arranged cabaret and shenanigans til the wee hours if you wish to partake.

Can I bring my own alcohol into the festival?
We really don’t mind if you want to bring a sensible amount of your own alcohol into the campsite Please do not bring glass bottles as they will cause a hazard if broken. This is a family festival, so please drink sensible and refrain from over-indulgence.

NB: No bottles or containers are allowed past the main front gates into the festival site.

Is there a bar at the festival?
Yes, you will find the main bar inside the Dave Muldowney Stage (it’s the big one) and smaller bar at the Kinnegar Stage.

Is there food and drink available at the festival?
Yes, there will be a selection of vendors with different kinds of food and beverages available throughout the weekend.

What about parking camper vans?
While there is no official camper van parking, an area between the port and the festival site can accommodate some parking. As it is not part of the festival site, we can not guarantee ample parking for all vehicles.

Can I bring my car/van onto the island?
You may bring your vehicle although there will be a surcharge by the ferry company as we don’t offer car crossing with any ticket. Should you wish to do so you must book your crossing to guarantee your place, otherwise you may be delayed. Parking is at your own risk, there is no parking available on site and any vehicles causing an obstruction will be moved as we must respect the needs of islanders, as well as ensuring that emergency vehicles have access if required.

How far is the festival from the campsite?

The campsite is next to the main festival site.

How far is the festival site from the pier?

The festival a 15min walk from Arranmore Pier.

Can I buy tickets on the island?
YES! When you arrive on the island you will be able to buy tickets at our ticket/registration office at the festival site.

Where do I check-in my ticket?

When you arrive on the island you will be able to check-in and receive your armband at our ticket/registration office at the festival site. Entry to festival site WILL NOT be permitted without your Swell armband. DON’T FORGET to bring a printout of your pre-purchased ticket with you!

How do I get to and from the island? (red ferry) and (blue ferry) have details of all crossings online. There will also be additional ferries for festival goers that need to leave Sunday night/Monday morning. Phone the companies for more details. If you decide to bring a vehicle you must book your crossing in advance to guarantee your place, otherwise you may be delayed as space on each ferry is limited.

Please note: While the Swell Festival is working alongside the ferry providers to accommodate the festival goers, it is ultimately the responsibility of each individual to organise their own travel plans to and from the island.

When does the festival start and end?

The festival gates will open on Friday, July 21 at 5pm. On both Saturday and Sunday mornings the gates will be opened from 10am til after midnight. The festival closes at midnight on July 23.


Make this year’s Swell Festival a family affair

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We received so many queries about whether or not children could attend attend Swell Festival that we decided we should post a quick blog!

Swell Music & Arts Festival prides itself in being a very family friendly festival, so much so that some kids have even been growing up with our annual event.

Kate O’Kallaghan and her husband Seamus Devenny and two sons have attended every year of Swell Festival to-date.

Their two boys have gone from enjoying the music, and entertainment provided for the kids, to becoming stage-hands, and even performing on stage.

“It’s a fantastic festival run by a small but very dedicated team who have been absolutely determined to make it a success. It’s always great craic out on the island for the weekend, it transports you into a different time and place and it’s a great opportunity to just let the hair down and have a bit of fun.

“The atmosphere is very chilled, everyone’s out there to just enjoy themselves and soak up the music. I’ve always had a lovely warm response when I’ve played there. I usually have a Sunday slot and it’s such a gorgeous day at the festival. Everyone is in a great mood and all relaxed, if a little wind swept, after a couple of days on an island,” she told Donegal Woman this week.

We welcome children of all ages, as long as they are supervised by a guardian at all times. Underage teenagers can get to enjoy their first festival experience, while children 12 and under even go free!

We understand that not all kids will be into watching the musical acts at all times and therefore there will be lots of kids entertainment provided.

As well as being able to take them around the beautiful island that is Arranmore, and all that it has to offer, there will also be various circus acts, from jugglers to stilt walkers, on the festival grounds over the weekend.

We look forward to welcome many families to this year’s Swell Music & Arts Festival which promises to be another memorable one. Click here to book your tickets


Pack your sun screen! Reports predict heatwave for Swell

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Dare we say it, but early predictions have indicated that we could possibly be in for a heatwave over Swell weekend.

It is still early days and, as we all know, the weather in Ireland can be very unpredictable, but hopes are high that this could be an all-around amazing weekend for festival goers on the island.

The Facebook page Donegal Weather Channel, who do a great job reporting the weather for the county, reported earlier today that nearly all weather models are in agreement of a warmer spell of weather being on the way.

It stated: “The American GFS, the European ECMWF, UK Met Office, the Canadian GEM, Japan JMA weather models are all going for a blocking pattern to setup over Ireland for the end of next week into the weekend with a Azores High pressure system to sit over western Europe to bring a very fine spell of weather which will see plenty of sunshine and warmer conditions with temperatures into the mid twenties.”

Donegal Weather Channel wrote the length of the spell of good weather at the moment is not clear but could last a while, but also warned: “If this set up takes place, which I think it’s going to, it will also bring the ongoing risk of thunderstorms.”

Things can change, of course, but wouldn’t you hate to miss Swell Music & Arts Festival if the weather does turn out to be as predicted.

We can’t think of a better place to be in Ireland than Arranmore Island, when the weather is great. Who are we kidding, we love it even when the weather isn’t that good.

We have called in someone to give us a more educated weather report for Swell weekend next week, so watch this space.But in the meantime, make sure to get your tickets for Swell here and don’t miss out on a great weekend of music, arts and possibly amazing weather!


Last chance to get your Islander tickets

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Last updated Monday, July 17, 10pm
THIS is an important notice regarding Islander tickets to this year’s Swell Music & Arts Festival. The discounted tickets have been on sale since Wednesday, July 5, and we are delighted to say that they are nearly all gone!

Island residents who have booked tickets are asked to collect their tickets from Early’s Bar by Wednesday, July 19, at the latest.

Members of the island diaspora who can’t make it home until Friday can still pick their tickets up then, but are asked to please contact Jerry directly on Mobile 0878054246 or send a direct message to the Early’s Bar Facebook page to confirm that they are definitely taking the tickets, as demand has been very high for the Islander tickets.

Due to such an enhanced line-up at this year’s Swell, there will be no free resident passes issued this year and there is only a very small amount of discounted Islander tickets left. So to avoid disappointment, purchase your tickets as soon as possible from Early’s.

Members of the Arranmore Diaspora also have the chance to book tickets for themselves, if you can’t purchase them in person before the festival. You can do so by contacting Jerry directly on Mobile 0878054246 or sending a direct message to the Early’s Bar Facebook page.

If you do miss out on the Islander tickets, we would still love to see many of you at the festival as your support is very important to us. Day passes will still be available on the website. We thank you all for your understanding and support.


Swell is a homecoming for Spats Colombo

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WHEN Spats Colombo perform on the Stáitse na nGael (Irish Stage) at Swell Music & Arts Festival on Arranmore later this month it will very much be a homecoming.

The band has been together for several years now and the current line-up features no less than three Donegal natives – Not bad for a Connemara-based band.

Spats Colombo features Donegal’s own Caroline Ní Dhubhchoin from Falcarragh (vocals), Stephen Curran from Castlefinn (drums) and Letterkenny man Micheal Ó Ciaraidh (fiddle).

The band’s line-up is completed by founding member, Simon Noble from Oxford on vocals, Grainne Bleasdale (vocals) and Brendan Feeney on bass.

Micheal said: “We have a lot of different members of the group all from different schools of musical thought. Caroline brings a traditional Irish quality to the vocals while my background in classical violin playing is probably noticeable.

“Simon (who writes the music) has a diverse taste in music – from the likes of The Beatles to the Mamas & Papas and people can tell us that they can hear these influences in the close harmony, easy-listening nature of our songs. So – alternative Irish language music is probably a safe summary of our style!”

Jokingly known amongst referred to as the unofficial TG4 House Band by friends, as a lot of them work at the Irish language station, it is only fitting that Spats Colombo will be one of the highlights on this year’s Stáitse na nGael at Swell Festival which will be compered by RTE Raidio na Gaeltacht broadcaster Donall Mac Ruairí.

Micheal said: “Although our musical tastes differ, we definitely all share a common love of the Irish language and culture.

“There has been a real new energy and life to the Irish language in recent years so it’s great to be a part of that in some small way.

“There are also some amazing individuals and groups who are doing great things musically for the language. The likes of Muireann NicAmhlaoibh and IMLÉ.

“We were nominated for Banna na Bliana at this year’s Gradaim Nós in the Sugar Club in Dublin and I remember talking to a music reviewer on the night who complimented the performances as progressive musically…and that the music just happened to be in the Irish language.

“I thought that was really well put. And, I suppose because of our strong Donegal connection we’re particularly excited about playing Swell.

“We’ve only been able to do one tour of Donegal as a band, so it’s great to get back up there again to play for our friends and family.”

Spats Colombo are well experienced in getting festival crowds going having performed at most of the major festivals in Ireland. “We played the Pobal Gaeilge at Electric Picnic the last two years running and really enjoyed playing the Bulmers Tent at Body & Soul, as well.”

Meanwhile in his day job, Micheal will be going into his fourth year in the television business this September and with that is taking on some new roles including starting work on a brand new online platform for young adults launching soon on TG4.

“I can’t say too much about it yet, but the details will be publicised soon. It’s been a busy year between fronting the 10@10 schools campaign with Operation Transformation, Dancing With The Stars and working with Art Parkinson and Miriam O’Callaghan as ambassadors for Seachtain na Gaeilge earlier in the year. Outside of television and social media, I’m enjoying working on my radio show with Galway-based station Raidió na dTreabh.

“Check Spats Colombo out on Facebook and give us a like to follow our progress. We have links there to our Soundcloud and iTunes pages. I’m a bit of a Snapchat addict so anyone of a similar disposition can find me on @irishmike-carey or on Instagram: @_mickyc_.”

The Stáitse na nGael will also feature Moya Brennan, Clann Mhic Ruairi amongst others. Other highlights at this year’s Swell include Mundy, Mark Geary, Orchid Collective, The California Feetwarmers, The Emerald Armada and many more.

Click here to buy your tickets online and follow the festival on Facebook: Swell Festival, Instagram: Swell Festival and Twitter: @SwellFestival