Willie Drennan is a musician, composer, storyteller, poet and writer who draws much of his material from the cultural traditions of his native County Antrim.
Drennan worked extensively across Europe and North America, between 1976 and 1997, before returning to Northern Ireland.
He has produced and recorded 19 CD albums and 3 DVD’s of his work.
Numerous theatre productions of Drennan’s, involving a fusion of music, song, spoken word and dance, have performed at festivals and theatre venues across UK, Ireland and Canada.
Willie is also well known as a presenter of television and radio shows, including the popular television series ‘A Dander With Drennan’ for BBC Northern Ireland 2005 -2009.
His most recent achievements are:
Since returning to Northern Ireland, he has produced fourteen CD recordings for the Ulster Scots Folk Orchestra Association.
Created and developed an Ulster-Scots Youth/Schools Programme, 1998- 2009.
Directed and fronted the Ulster Scots Folk Orchestra and associated folk bands in over 800 performances 2001 to 2009.
‘Wee Book’ and accompanying CD published by Ullans Press 2004.
Researched and scripted stage show entitled Fae Lang Syne: the story of Ulster-Scots from ancient times to the present day, told through narration, music, song and dance. Performed at 24 theatres/festivals 2004-2006.
Produced CD recording entitled 'Oor Wee Scuil' – ‘Sangs and Rimes for Weans’ for the Ulster-Scots Primary School Project at Stranmillis University, Belfast 2003.
Recitation of poems for CD recording. Newtownabbey Borough Council's 'Sentry Hill Museum Project' 2003.
Presented several radio shows for BBC Radio Ulster's 'Kist O Wurds' programme 2005-2008.
Presented a series of 8 television shows for BBC Northern Ireland called, 'A Dander with Drennan'.2005-2008. Background music composed/produced by Willie Drennan.
Featured on RTE TV documentary, ‘Cultures of Ulster’ 2005.
Book entitled 'Big Lang Danner' exploring cultural links with South West Scotland. Published by Ullans Press 2007.Created and scripted stage show ‘An Ulster Address to Rabbie Burns’. Performed at 12 theatres/festivals in 2009.
Founded 'The Ulster Folk', a grassroots arts and culture periodical and website, July 2010. Editor of this publication until January 2015.
Recorded CD entitled 'Journey To Orion', by Willie Drennan Wired Up. This album is a new musical direction; fusing trad and roots with rock and blues December 2011.
Recorded CD entitled ‘Roots Revisited’ December 2013.
Contracted by Maiden Voyage Dance as music director and to provide music for 'Pause and Effect' 2015 -2017.
Recorded CD entitled 'Northern Ireland, Everywhere We Go' May 2016.
Provided music and musician for Launch of Belfast City Hall's History Exhibition , May 2017.
Venues/ Festivals include:
Toronto Storytelling Festival, Conception Bay Folk Festival, Miramichi Folksong Festival, Miramichi, Irish Fest, Emory University in Atlanta, Cave Run Storytelling Festival in Kentucky. Morehead University, Frankfort Folklife Festival, Flight of the Earls Festival in Rome, Hammersmith Irish Centre, Manchester Irish Festival, Festival at the Edge, Eden Arts Festival, Edinburgh Fringe, Portpatrick Folk Festival, Seacat Storytelling Festival, Wigtown Book Festival, Boyle Arts Festival, National Museum of Ireland, University of Limerick, Cavan All Ireland Fleadh 2011 and 2012, North Atlantic Fiddle Convention, Maiden City Festival, Verbal Arts Centre, Ulster Storytelling Festival, Belfast Waterfront, Belfast Festival at Queens, Belfast Waterfront, Belfast Literary Festival, Braid Theatre, Belfast Orangefest, Belfast Children’s Festival. Derrylane Yardfest, Mancherster Beer Fest (Marble Brewery), Nyah Festival, Cavan. Royal Albert Hall, Dalriada Festival, Red Sails Festival, Hillsborough Castle (house party for Prince Charles), Dublin Convention Centre, Island Arts Centre, Croke Park, Stormont Castle, UZ-Pressefest, Dortmund; Theatre at The Mill, Titanic Belfast, Troubadour, Earls Court. Shankill Christmas and Twelfth Festivals.
Willie has led over 100 cultural heritage workshops. These workshops have focused on a variety of topics including storytelling, traditional music songs and poetry, the Lambeg drum, Ulster Scots history/culture and the works of Rabbie Burns.
Willie acted as a tour guide on dozens of week-long bicycle and hiking tours from 1995 to 2007 and one in County Antrim, June 2018. Plus many one-off cultural presentations to tourist groups.
He had five contracts to write and perform original stories with music for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) 1995-1997
Co-founded and initially coordinated the Fundy Folk Society, Canada 1989. This society developed into the present-day successful Evergreen Theatre of Nova Scotia.
Member of Award-winning Ballymena Arts Partnership from April 2010 until October 2014.
Commissioned by Maiden Voyage Dance to create music for their show, 'Pause and Effect'. September 2017
Performance for Mix The City ,Belfast, 2019.
Researcher, producer and script writer for The Fiddle and Fife Exhibition at Mid and East Antrim Museum September 2019 to January 2020.