The Maid of the Mill Tradfest is an initiave of Comhaltas Ard Mhacha County Board. The festival has been running annually since 2018 in Keady, Co. Armagh. Each year, a local musician is celebrated through the event.

Main Sponsor

Stephen McMullen

This year the Maid of the Mill Tradfest will take place between 5th – 7th April and will honour local  musician and townsman Stephen McMullen.

Music Masterclasses

Registration for the masterclasses is now open. Places are limited and booking is essential. Contact us today to secure your place.

Call / WhatsApp: +44 77 8619 0459


Cost is only £20 per student and families with 3 or more students qualify for a concession rate.

Session Trail

‼️ Here are the  details of the sessions taking place over the weekend…
9:30pm – Cassies Bar Keady – Opening Session with the McMullen Family & Friends
🎶 4:00pm – The Close Bar – Ceol Mall (Adult Slow session)
🎶 6:00pm – The Close Bar – Peter McKenna, Sinead McKenna, Méabh Smyth & Eilís Lavelle
🎶 7:00pm – Arthurs’ Bar, Keady – Flute recital with Martin Meehan followed by a session with Seamus Tierney & Noilaig Ní Laoire
🎶 9:00pm – The Cooper Bar – McCusker Family & Friends
🎶 9:00pm – Cassies Bar Keady – Tutors Concert followed by a session
🎶 3:00pm – Tommy Makem Arts and Community Centre – Junior Session
🎶 7:00pm – Cassies Bar Keady – Adult Closing Session – Honouring Méabh Smyth (Gradham Ceoil Winner)

How to get here...

Keady is located in Co. Armagh, and is about an hours drive from both Dublin and Belfast. The map below will help you get here.

Where to stay...

There are several great places to stay in the local area, see below for some of the options available.

Upper English Street


BT61 7LB

Tel: +4428 3725 2028

Monaghan Rd


Co. Monaghan

A75 AP92

Tel +353429746666



H18 Y220

Tel: +3534781888

116 Dundrum Rd



BT60 2NG

Tel: +4428 3753 1257

60 Dundrum Rd



BT60 2QE

Tel: +4428 3753 8647

Market Square

Black Island


Co. Monaghan

A75 VY02

Tel: +353 83 083 9808

Get in touch...

If you have any questions relating to the tradfest you can contact us using the form below or by emailing:


(please note this form is for Maid of the Mill enquiries only)

    Browse the Archive...


    2023 Maid of the Mill Tradfest

    In 2023 the Maid of the Mill Tradfest took place between 14th – 16th April and was a tribute to world reknown singer, Sarah Makem – (mother of Tommy Makem).


    Tribute by David Hammond

    Sarah Makem was born in Keady, Co Armagh in the year 1900.  She was a singer all her life, an inheritor of a family tradition, a repository of over 400 songs, I suppose, that tells us about the events of ordinary people in this part of Ireland over the last four centuries.  Her songs derive from the three elements that are strongest in Ulster – the Irish, the Scotch and the English, elements that account for a lot of our distress but, at the same time, provide a rich and fascinating backdrop to our lives.

    Singing came naturally to her, as easy as breathing.  The voice was low in pitch, there was an assurance with the run of a line of poetry, she had the knack of telling a story, and something that is less easy to describe, she had a gift for lifting the voice in some kind of effortless way, some celebration.

    Sarah Makem

    Sarah & Jack Makem


    Sarah Makem had tender love songs, desolate songs of parting, songs of occupation, long and beautiful ballads, small songs about local happenings that were rescued from the prosaic by their authentic detail and the enlivenment of her voice. She had a smile that lit up her countenance and the whole company.  She was gentle and lively and like the best of her kind anywhere in Ireland, intelligent and well informed, a believer in tradition but never a slave to the merely conventional.  You always felt the better for an evening in her company enriched by her warmth and a life giving energy.  She had a reverence for the past, a kinship with those who had gone before, an awareness of how much the present is woven into the past.  When you entered the house in Keady and met Sarah and Peter you knew that everything was there to be shared with you.

    Away back in the fifties, when everyone thought that her kind of music was old hat and, even worse, a low class culture, she aroused these islands every Sunday morning in a BBC radio programme.  It was a series that lasted for several years, put together by men like Sean O’Boyle, Seamus Ennis, Peter Kennedy, and it was probably responsible for the rebirth of traditional music.

    It was called ‘As I roved out’ and it took its title from the song that Sarah sang to introduce each programme.

    ‘As I roved out on a May morning, on a May morning right early

    I met my love upon the way, O Lord but she was early’

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