In November 1741 Handel landed in Dublin in the midst of a professional crisis. His last two Italian operas had flopped on the London stage, but in Ireland Handel saw an opportunity for a radical change of direction and he seized it with both hands.

Led by acclaimed Irish bassoonist, harpsichordist and conductor Peter Whelan, Ensemble Marsyas returns to the Festival for a three-concert residency that tells the remarkable story of Handel’s stay in Ireland.

In The Arrival of Mr Handel the ensemble explores the rich musical milieu into which Handel was thrown, performing a broad selection of pieces by Handel and his contemporaries. In Mr Handel at the Keyboard Philippe Grisvard performs a selection of the great composer's keyboard works in the magnificent surroundings of The Long Gallery of Kilkenny Castle, while in the final concert Peter Whelan conducts the first Irish performance in modern times of the original Dublin version of Messiah, an unmissable chance to experience Handel's masterpiece in its original Irish form.