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Arts & Culture

Nine million hear Clare woman’s voice

A North Clare woman wowed judges on the hit television programme, The Voice UK at the weekend. More than nine million people tuned in as Burren resident, Sharon Murphy sang Bob Dylan’s Forever Young in the show’s blind auditions broadcast on BBC 1 on Saturday. “To be honest, I have done gigs here and done gigs in other countries but I was not prepared for my nerves. It is very surreal because you are dealing with cameras. I normally play the guitar but this time I decided to focus on my voice because that is the show,” she explained. “I got on the stage and there were two Xs on the ground. You do the rehearsal and there is one X and then, when I went out, there were two so I didn’t know which one to stand on and then, on the very last note, I thought, this might not happen for me,” she added. Throughout the performance it …

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The Quiet Man sculptures for auction

AN iconic movie that helped put the West of Ireland on the tourism trail for millions of visitors will be recalled at an auction in County Mayo at the weekend. Two pieces of bronze sculpture by Mark Rode of legendary actor, John Wayne are to be sold on Sunday, as part of the auction of furniture and memorabilia from Ashford Castle. In one, Wayne’s image is that of the character of Sean Thornton in The Quiet Man, along with his co-star, Maureen O’Hara, who played the fiery Mary Kate Danaher. The 1952 John Ford classic movie was filmed around Cong in County Mayo and it is at the Old Sawmills that the auction will be conducted on Saturday and Sunday, starting at 10.30am on both days. There will be viewing on Friday. In 2013, a bronze statue of Sean Thornton and Mary Kate Danaher, created by Mark Rode, was erected in the village of Cong to celebrate the enduring appeal …

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Des O’Malley for book festival

Former Progressive Democrats leader and government minister, Des O’Malley will participate in a special political debate as part of the Ennis Book Club Festival in March. The Limerick politician will join a panel of experts for this year’s Sunday Symposium, entitled The Naked Politician on Sunday March 8. The panel discussion about life as a politician in Ireland today also features Professor Gary Murphy, political scientist at DCU; Mick Clifford, correspondent for The Irish Examiner; and Katie Hannon; political correspondent for RTE. Supported by Clare County Council, Clare County Library and The Arts Council, the three-day programme of festival events is expected to attract an estimated 3,000 book club members and literary enthusiasts from all over Ireland, Europe and North America.

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Success for Kate Purcell on The Voice of Ireland

East Clare’s Kate Purcell has made it through to the battle stages on the popular television series The Voice of Ireland. The talented folk singer appeared on Sunday’s episode of the programme where she sang her own version of Rihanna’s hit song We Found Love for the blind audition. She won over two of the four judges on the contest as Kian Egan and Rachael Stevens both turned around to offer the Tulla resident a place on their team. Complemented for stripping the song back by judge Kian Egan, Kate chose to go with the former Westlife singer and will now progress on his team to the battle stages. Kate is the second East Clare contestant to make it through to these stages of the competition, as Scariff resident Sarah McTernan will compete on Rachael Stevens team. By Carol Byrne  

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Arts Council invests in Clare

The Arts Council today (Wednesday) said it would invest over €210,000 in Clare-based organisations with a proven track record of delivering great arts experiences for people all over the county and beyond. A total of four organisations successfully applied for funding. Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy is a nationally significant event, involving the transmission of all aspects of the traditional arts, with an emphasis on high quality tuition. It also provides multiple opportunities for the public to engage in the traditional arts. Glór Irish Music Centre is an arts resource for Ennis and Clare. It produces work with network partners and hosts multi-disciplinary touring work. It organises a programme of arts engagement with the community. Clare County Council will also receive a grant of €63,000 for its arts service. In addition to this support, the Arts Council will be making significant funding available throughout the year for touring, projects and bursaries for talented artists. The Arts Council, the government agency tasked …

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‘Bridge gigs for McMahon and The Blues Train

LOCAL woman Lou McMahon will be singing at Sixmilebridge’s Winter Music Weekend. “I’m playing on January 18 in the Mill Bar for the grand finale concert. Before that, during the day, I’m at singers’ session,” she said last week. Regarding her music, she said, “I’m a singer/songwriter and I’d consider myself to be in the contemporary folk genre. I’ve been playing for a number of years and I’m just off tour with Jack L. I was support act. “Musically, my influences are mostly American folk songwriters; people like Joni Mitchell and I always liked PJ Harvey. Also, country singers like Alison Krauss, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, all the old songwriters. Then the newer ones like Bill Callahan on Anna Calvi or Maggie Bjorklund, that kind of thing.” The tour with Jack L saw her visiting many parts of the country. “I was doing that for most of 2012 and ’13. I was gigging with him in arts …

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Tuning up for a winter weekend of top class entertainment

MORE than 1,000 people are expected to flock to Bunratty and Sixmilebridge for the annual Shannonside Winter Music Festival and visitors to Bunratty Castle & Folk Park will be in for some special performances as part of the line-up. The castle and folk park will play host a number of events on Saturday, January 17, from 12noon to 5pm, giving its visitors a flavour of all that the international music event has to offer. Each year, the Winter Music Festival showcases a variety of music genres and has been growing year-on-year both in popularity and in the diversity of the acts. For the fourth year-in-a-row, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park will play host to the best of this year’s talent across five venues. The acts change every hour and perform a 45 minute set each. John Ruddle, CEO of Shannon Heritage, which manages and operates Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, said, “It never ceases to amaze me how, each year, …

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Áras visit for historical society

THE committee of the Shannon Archaeological and Historical Society visited Áras an Uachtaráin last month, taking up an invitation from President Michael D Higgins. They made the trip to Dublin on December 17 and to mark the visit, the chairman of the society, John O’Brien presented the President with a collection of editions of the society’s journal, The Other Clare and a specially commissioned silver tie pin featuring a Poulnabrone motif, which was designed and crafted by Gleeson Goldsmiths of Shannon. The society’s outings organiser, Pat Costello was one of those who travelled and he said he felt the invite arose because of the President’s interest in local history. “First and foremost, I think it was an interest in the journal, the work of the society and so forth. Many years ago, John O’Brien [the chairman] and myself would have met him and he has a big interest in County Clare. We had sent him copies of the journal to …

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