Chad McFadon

NORTH TEXAS IRISH FESTIVAL. The North Texas Irish Festival (NTIF) is produced by the Southwest Celtic Music Association and is held in Fair Park in Dallas, Texas. It is the second oldest Celtic festival in the United States and has become the largest held in the Southwest, with an average of 40,000 guests each year. As of 2010 the festival was the second largest cultural event at Fair Park.

The first Celtic music festival in North Texas started as Texas Céilí on March 5, 1983, at Nick Farrelly’s Lounge on Oak Lawn (the location was later the site of a Pappadeaux’s seafood restaurant). In 1984 Celtic music enthusiasts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area formed the Southwest Celtic Music Association (SMCA) for the purpose of studying, performing, and promoting traditional Celtic music and dance in the Southwest. The SMCA focuses primarily on the Celtic music performed in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, although Celtic musical traditions also can be found in Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Brittany (France), and Galicia (Spain).

Under the SMCA’s leadership, the NTIF relocated to the Cultural Arts building in Fair Park in 1984. In 2001 the festival moved to its current location at Fair Park. The NTIF takes place on the first full weekend of every March. It was originally held only on Saturday, but as it grew, it became a two-day festival and eventually spanned Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Since most of the events are held indoors, the festival rarely has any weather-related cancellations. However, in 1989 it was cancelled due to a severe ice storm.

Many prominent Celtic artists have performed at NTIF including, Altan, Mick Moloney and Green Fields of America, Dervish, Cathie Ryan, Aoife Clancy, Tommy Makem, The Fureys, The Makem Brothers, Robbie O’Connell, Tommy Sands, Máire Ní Chathasaigh and Chris Newman, The Boys of the Lough, Cherish the Ladies, DeDannan, Eileen Ivers, Patrick Street, Liz Carroll and John Doyle, Solas, Danu, Téada, Slide, Béoga, Paddy Keenan and Tommy O’Sullivan, Patrick Ball, Seamus Kennedy, The Elders, Glengarry Bhoys, Seven Nations, David Munnelly Band, Ed Miller, Grand Derangement, Nollaig Casey and Artie McGlynn, and Great Big Sea.

The SMCA publishes the newsletter Céilí and produces several events throughout the year, but the NTIF is the group’s largest annual gathering. The SMCA also makes annual contributions to young Celtic performers through a scholarship fund.


Lybo Buchanan, “Do You Remember When? The Icefest of ’89,” Céilí 26 (March–April 2007). North Texas Irish Festival (, accessed October 7, 2010. Southwest Celtic Music Association (, accessed October 7, 2010.

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Chad McFadon, "NORTH TEXAS IRISH FESTIVAL," accessed January 22, 2020,

Uploaded on June 18, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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