I'm sure there will be a huge response to this news, and I'd like to add my 'tuppence' by saying thanks to Tony for the past fifteen years. It must have been tough at times, but Tony has always managed to show great good humour, and always made people feel welcome in Athy. He and the annual festival will be missed. On behalf of Clem, Dick, and myself - thanks, Tony.
I remember a long time ago when I started playing, and asking what was the best bluegrass festival in Ireland to go to. Everyone I asked said the same thing - Athy. Well, I've been there, I've played there, and they were right. The music was always first, but the people who attended or played were never second.
This festival will be sorely missed. I think the Irish bluegrass community owe a large debt to Tony O'Brien; I for one certainly do. Ferguson, Holmes, & Henry grew from the seed of a few tunes in a back room in the Carlton Hotel at the Festival in 2007. Thanks, Tony.
The Athy festival was my first introduction to the Irish BG scene, over 10 years ago now, and memories of the warm and friendly welcome I encountered there endure... Fair play to you, Tony!
I would like to add to the compliments and 'Thank Yous' to Tony O'Brien. Tony put my first tour together back in 2005 with Gail Wade. Then in 2007 he hired 'Gary Ferguson & David Miner' and again in 2009 with 'Ferguson, Holmes and Henry'. I have been coming back each year since. I am forever grateful!
Also, on the compliment side, I love Tony's singing. He has an 'Ancient Appalachian Tone' in his voice. I would love for him to come visit sometime and we'll take a drive down into Virginia and do some picking and singing with Mike Auldridge and Bill Emerson. :-)
Thanks for all you've done, Tony! It has not gone unnoticed.
It was with great, great sadness that I read the news of the end of Athy Bluegrass Festival - very sad but totally understandable, because even though Tony O'Brien ran the festival so very well, it's a sign of the times we live in.
It has been an honour to have been associated with the Athy Bluegrass Festival and with Tony O'Brien. Athy is going to be sorely missed; and may I just take this opportunity to wish Tony O'Brien every success in the future, and I look forward to meeting him at some bluegrass gathering somewhere soon.