Fiddles at the ready: Appalachian and bluegrass fest returns to Harbor

It’s a celebration of what Irish music grew and flourished into

Celebrating the evolution of what Irish music became in the Americas, the Galway Bay Irish Pub and Restaurant in Ocean Shores will hold the sixth running of its Appalachian, Bluegrass, Cowboy Country and Cavalry Music Festival beginning Friday.

With events at both the Galway Bay and the 8th Street Ale House, half a dozen artists will perform over the weekend.

“We haven’t done it since the pandemic,” said Chris Doyle, co-owner of the restaurant, in an interview. “What we did different this year is we got Mr. Gibbons’ daughter, Megan involved, to do the social media. It’s garnered a lot of interest.”

The roots of country music and its offshoots begin in many ways in the Appalachian Mountains, where Scots-Irish immigrants brought their music. Twining with the old forests and the new struggles of this continent, forms of music we’d come to recognize as bluegrass, country, and other related arts grew and spread, said co-owner Liam Gibbons.

“We do this because all the roots from this come from Ireland,” Gibbons said. “The Irish came over they were all the fiddle players.”

The festival begins at noon on Friday at the Galway Bay, and at 7 p.m. at the 8th Street with a set from the Shivering Denizens.

“We’re doing it both here and at the alehouse, which is new,” Doyle said. “People are interested in getting out and doing things now. We’re looking at some talent for next year that’s more on the country side.”

This year will also feature a new theme — a Sunday afternoon set at the 8th Street featuring groups performing gospel music, Doyle said.

The ABC3 Fest is a more intimate event than the Celtic Music Feis that the bar holds each autumn, Doyle said.

“Our festival has gotten so large, many many people would rather just stay at the Galway Bay,” Doyle said. “This offers them an opportunity for a more intimate gathering at the pub.”

It’s also a different mood, Doyle said.

“They both get you to move, but they’re different. It’s a different vibe,” Doyle said. “Country also has the opportunity to do a lot of harmonizing, more than Irish music.”

With the reduced size also means more opportunity for the organizers and staff to enjoy themselves, Doyle said.

“It’s a smaller venue. We get to spend more time with the festival goers here at the pub,” Doyle said. “We get to interact at the pub”

Tickets are still available at the door and online, Gibbons said. There’s a variety of options, from evening-only passes to full-concert VIP passes with discounts on drinks and food. The festival will host a specifically themed menu, including signature Southern cocktails and Cajun-style trout.

“It’s unique to the Harbor,” Doyle said. “No one does what we do on the Harbor.”

Scheduling, tickets and information is available at the Galway Bay’s website.

Contact Senior Reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or

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