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Arts & Culture

Japanese musicians flock to East Clare

JAPANESE woman, Erika Mochizuki, together with another compatriot, have set up an Irish music project called Blackbird Music, which will see 11 musicians from their homeland come to East Clare this week. Dai Komatsu, who is an Irish fiddle-player based in a city called Nagoya in Japan, and Erika have been using their project to provide Irish music material over the internet. Erika originally had the idea of introducing this rich musical culture to Japanese people. She met Dai for the first time in Ennis in 2005, when he came there to learn traditional Irish fiddle-playing. The idea of this project gradually evolved from that first meeting. Together, they organise and coordinate concert tours and workshops in Japan for traditional Irish musicians. The music summer camp in East Clare is another element to this. Erika organizes instrumental lessons for Japanese people visiting Ireland and she also provides technical advice and translation for Japanese people interested in Irish music. They share …

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Hats off to some great local characters

Meetings of Clare’s most famous names is the premise for a one-man show to be staged in the north and east of the county later this year. Lisdoonvarna man Gerry Howard will star in the performance Hats Off To Clare, written and directed by Mountshannon resident, Paul Brennan. The production will explore the imagined interactions of Clare’s most famous factual and fictional characters. Gerry was involved in amateur drama for years before taking the leap into professional acting and it was around the time he decided to leave his career as a hotelier that the seed was sown for this particular production. “I was always involved in amateur acting. I think I started around the age of 12. I was involved in plays with the Lisdoonvarna Dramatic Society and was involved right up to when I sold the hotel, The Carrigann in Lisdoonvarna. When I sold it, it seemed to be a great opportunity to have a cut at something …

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Kilmihil author on Man Booker longlist

KILMIHIL author Niall Williams was crossing a street in London on Wednesday when he received news that his latest novel, History of the Rain, had been long-listed for the prestigious Man Booker Prize. He is the only Irish author nominated. The story is set in the village of Faha in West Clare, where young Ruth Swain lies bedridden in an attic room piled high with 3,958 books. The character tells the story of herself, her father and the family of English clergymen from which he came. Outside, it’s raining. For the first time in its 46-year history, the £50,000 prize has been opened up to writers of any nationality, writing originally in English and published in the UK. “I was very surprised to get word this morning. It was completely unexpected and I’m absolutely delighted. I got a phonecall from the publishers to tell me that in an hour’s time, the announcement would happen. The phone rang and they asked …

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Concertinas assemble at Feakle

THE Feakle Festival’s enduring legacy is its commitment to the best in Irish traditional music and this year’s programme is no exception. From ICE, an ensemble of concertinas, the dulcet harmonies of Lumiere, accordion great Donal Murphy and his band to Feakle’s own Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill, there is much to choose from. “Music with heart, music with soul, music to inspire, music with fun and laughter, that’s what we look for when putting our programme together,” Gary Pepper, festival director, said. One of the most notable performances at this year’s event is the second performance ever of ICE The Irish Concertina Ensemble, a new departure in Irish music. ICE brings together five master concertina players in Tim Collins, Pádraig Rynne, Mícheál O’Raghallaigh, Caitlín Nic Gabhann and Edel Fox. This innovative group’s performance in Feakle will include the premiere recital of newly-composed material by Tim Collins. Tim, a native of West Limerick, resides in Crusheen and is a well-known …

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Clare Youth Society hosts wild musical

CLARE Youth Musical Society will go wild on the Glór stage this Thursday and Friday for their version of The Jungle Book. The society was established by dance teacher Laura-Jane Allis and Speech & Drama teacher Sarah Griffin. Sarah also directed Ennis Musical Society’s sell-out production of Annie earlier this year. Sarah said the group was established to fill a gap during the summer months. “Myself and Laura Jane set it up about three years ago and this is our third production. Because we both work with children and teenagers, we knew that for the summer there wasn’t much for them to do because all of the end of the year shows are in May and June and then July and August are free. We said we’d set up something just to kind of keep the interest going and get the musical element there for young people and, hopefully, they’d find as much passion as we do in it.” The …

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Stunning Scattery paintings go on exhibition

ENNIS Friary has an added attraction for both tourists and locals this summer – a temporary art exhibition featuring a series of stunning original paintings of Scattery Island. The paintings  are the work of Senan O’Brien a talented Dublin artist with very strong Clare roots. The exhibition features six paintings depicting different views of Scattery Island, it’s landscape, buildings and Saint Senan’s monastery. The artist was born in 1964 in Dublin, the youngest son of Denis O’Brien, himself a renowned artist, and Lillian O’Brien (nee Beehan) from Kilrush. He was named Senan after a good friend of his parents Fr. Senan Hederman O.F.M. a Franciscan from Ennis, who, by coincidence, is buried at Ennis Friary where the exhibition is taking place. O’Brien’s skills as an artist have been widely recognised and his artwork is highly sought after. He has been commissioned to paint works for former president Mary McAleese and A.I.B. Bank. Successful solo exhibitions of his work have also …

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Local studies centre banks new material

Clare Local Studies Centre in Ennis this week received a generous donation when New York-based Clare Harvey Curtin presented three volumes of Irish Immigrants of the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank by Kevin J. Rich to Clare County Library. The origins of the Savings Bank date to 1850 when John Hughes, the Roman Catholic Bishop of New York, prevailed on the Irish Emigrant Society to organize a safe deposit institution for the Irish community. The Emigrant Savings Bank was thus founded in New York and began accepting deposits in September 1850. The records span the period 1850 to 1880. The Test Books were used by the bank when a depositor wished to send money home, and as a practical identity test, especially for depositors who were illiterate. The three index books presented by Clare Curtin are organized by year and the depositors are grouped under all surnames beginning with the same letter. The records of the Emigrant Savings Bank are important …

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Sarah gets a taste of music promotion

A Lissycasey business student has been shortlisted for a major award following her internship in the music promotion industry. Sarah Nugent, a third year student in GMIT’s College of Tourism and Arts, has been nominated for “best intern” in the National Event Industry (NEI) Awards. She worked on placement with with Irish concert promotion company, MCD. Sarah, who has just finished third year of a Bachelor of Business in Event Management & PR, started her placement in MCD in Dublin in June 2013, supported by the GMIT Links Office. She finished in mid-January before returning to complete her third year degree studies in the Galway campus. “I feel privileged to be shortlisted for this award. The work placement aspect of my GMIT event management degree allowed me this amazing opportunity to do an internship with a prestigious company like MCD. I got to work alongside, and taught by, some of the best people in this industry. “During the eight months I was there I got …

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