THE EARLY FESTIVALS

Aly Bain

The first two or three years of Marymass Festival are not particularly well documented – yet! – but by 1972 the festival was clearly in full swing. Stan Robertson by this time had emerged on the scene and been recruited as Folk Club secretary. Over the coming years, now familiar names continued to flow through the Eglinton Folk Club, not only at Marymass, but throughout the year.  Archie Fisher, Hamish Imlach, Tich Frier, The Bitter Withy, Danny Kyle, The McCalmans, Robin Hall & Jimmie MacGregor, Gerry Rafferty, Johnny Silvo, Cyril Tawney, Mick Broderick, Cilla & Artie, Isla St. Clair, Acker Bilk, Christy Moore, The Furies, The Sands Family, The Dubliners, Alastair McDonald, The Corries, Fidel Michel and The Vindscreen Vipers are just a few of the artists who became well acquainted with Irvine.

The Residents that year in 1972 were Bitter Withy, Freda Morrison, The Buskers, The Ghillie Mhor, Danny Kyle and John Kirkpatrick & Sue Harris.  Billed as ‘also appearing’ was a long list of local artists; Bill Baines, The Cranoch, Speedie & Ian, Pete & Heather, Dominic Boyce, The Fiveways, The Loudons, Angus Russell, John Clegg, Sam Gaw, Bill Nolan and The Waverleys. And then a series of headline concerts by JSD Band, Alasdair McDonald, The Whistlebinkies, Hamish Imlach, Gallagher & Lyle, Mike Whellans & Contraband, Greenmantle, Billy Connolly, Matt McGinn & The Laggan, The MacDonald Sisters, Fraser Bruce and Greenmantle.

The Traditional Singing Competition, which had been introduced in 1971 and won in that first year by Dick Gaughan, became the main event on the first Saturday afternoon.  Note ‘the first Saturday’, because spanning two weekends and a whole week in between, the length of the event was unprecedented for any folk festival in Scotland.