The ballroom at Farmleigh is the place to be for an evening of music you will remember long after the summer has departed. Now in their fifth year, Farmleigh’s annual OPW Salon Series have become a byword for musical excellence set in dramatic surroundings with a perfect music ambience and a fine natural acoustic. Curated by Improvised Music Company, these concerts bring Ireland and the world’s leading musicians into the very heart of Farmleigh, evoking a vibrant musical history that sits alongside the estate’s proud literary and artistic heritage.

Farmleigh, an estate of 78 acres situated to the north-west of Dublin’s Phoenix Park, was purchased from the Guinness family by the Irish Government in 1999 for €29.2m. The house has been carefully refurbished by the Office of Public Works as the premier accommodation for visiting dignitaries and guests of the nation, for high level Government meetings, and for public enjoyment.

Four, free, mid-week concerts will take place in Farmleigh’s ballroom over July and August and will feature unique and distinct talents drawn from across the musical spectrum:
Julie Feeney will be gracing the ballroom with her artful chamber pop on Tuesday 21st July.
Jazz pianist John Taylor brings an evening of solo piano elegance on Wednesday 29th July.
Duo Hayes & Cahill bring traditional Irish music to Farmleigh on Tuesday 4th August.
The final concert on Tuesday 11th August is a night of cultural crossover as Francesco Turrisi’s Tarab, a group which draws inspiration from Turkish, Mediterranean and Irish music, meets The Xi an Si, an intriguing trio of Chinese women embracing Irish airs performed on beautiful Asian instruments.

Tickets for each of these intimate salon concerts are free and chosen via an online ticket lottery. For further information on ticketing and the salon music programme visit

farmleighI won tickets to last nights performance by Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill, the third in the set of the salon series. Last night, the beautiful ballroom of Farmleigh was awash with jigs and reels and slow airs. An absolutely beautiful setting with crystal chandeliers, gold chairs, high ceilings and Georgian archs. It is like what I picture the ballroom in Jane Austen’s books would look like. Following a drink in the conservatory and a walk in the lush gardens, we took our seats just after 8 o’clock for the performance.

Martin-hayes-dennis-cahill_ireland-usaMartin Hayes, hailing from Co. Clare, is regarded as one of the most extraordinary talents to emerge in the world of Irish traditional music with his unique sound and his mastery of his chosen instrument – the violin. Dennis Cahill is a master guitarist, a native of Chicago born to parents from the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill met in Chicago in the 1980s and have played as a duo ever since. They played long, sometimes thirty-minute, multi-tune sets in their concerts, starting from the simplest of melodies, building in intensity, but never abandoning musicality and ideas.

They truly took us on a journey and showed off their musical prowess playing one tune into the next. The ballroom of Farmleigh was transformed into a trad session for the night. The pair head off to Martin Hayes hometown for the Feakle International Traditional Music Festival and then onto Bantry, Co. Cork for the Masters of Tradition Festival.

For more information on Hayes and Cahill, go to their website