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Arts & Culture

Fiona works her magic with new album

COMPOSER and music teacher, Fiona Linnane lives in Kildimo, County Limerick, but maintains a strong connection with her native County Clare – so much so, in fact, she has been inspired to embark on a new album of original works for solo piano, following her work with Burren in Bloom. “I was the composer in residence for a project called Bells Across The Burren in Ballyvaughan last year. It was a huge project, which was all-encompassing but very rewarding. That was an artist-in-the-community project with the Arts Council of Ireland and Burrenbeo and it was part of the Burren in Bloom festival last year. It was a five-month residency so, after that, I decided I needed something small and manageable,” said the Cratloe woman. “I had another big project as well this year, dealing with writing a commission for a choir in Limerick, so I just wanted something smaller, where I was just collaborating with a small number of people. …

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Vogue Japan on location in the Burren

The Burren will be showcased to one of the most lucrative tourism markets in the world after Black Head was used as the backdrop of Vogue, earlier this week. Irish photographer, Boo George, who was shooting for Emporio Armani at Dollymount Strand, last week, used the stark North Clare scenery as the setting for the fashion feature, with top international model, Aymeline Valade. Vogue is one of the top fashion magazines in the world and producer of this shoot, Laura Oughton, believes, “It is the perfect opportunity to let people see this area and hopefully they will want to come and visit and see where we shot the story.” She added that this was her first time in Ireland but she would definitely be back. “There are so many different types of scenery here and so much we can shoot,” Ms Oughton said. Michael Fitzsimons, Fáilte Ireland’s client services officer for Clare and the Aran Islands, believes this type of …

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Crocodiles, cooks and circus stars in Ennis

This year’s Ennis Street Festival line-up is branching out in new directions, as it introduces Ennis Sounds Good, a parallel music festival, and offers the public a modern take on dancing at the crossroads. The festival takes place from July 4 to 6 and this year’s latest addition, Ennis Sounds Good, will mean the fun and spectacle of Ennis Street Festival continues. With 36 gigs across 15 venues, it is sure to be a success. Highlights include Mikey and the Scallywags, Drizzle, Skazz, The O’Malleys, DJ Will Softly, Keith McDonald, Buck Tailor, La Orquestra Kalamares, blues, folk, ska, salsa, world music, Spanish music, trad and more, culminating in a big festival music finale on Sunday, July 6. One of the other new elements to this year’s festival is a 21st-century interpretation of the traditional custom of dancing at the crossroads. Through participation in modern art forms and dance, dancing at the crossroads will take place in O’Connell Square with the Ennis …

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Luka Bloom tours the cafes of Clare

Luka Bloom could be sinn ing to you in your local café next month, as the North Clare resident embarks on his second Clare Café Tour. As someone who thoroughly enjoys the café atmosphere, Luka Bloom decided last year to bring the music to the wonderful cafes around the county. The atmosphere they have for an intimate gig was one reason for bringing his folk song repertoire to the café stage but, he also said, he finds the proprietors are genuinely enthusiastic about creating a warm and homely atmosphere for the guests. Speaking about last year’s café tour, Luka said it went beyond all his expectations. “I was a little bit nervous about whether people would be open to it, and I was completely blown away. The interesting thing about the tour we did last year was that every single one of the café’s I played in last September, I don’t think one of them existed 10 years ago. They …

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Kíla on their way to Doolin

Having played together for over 20 years, Kíla are one of the country’s most innovative groups, having created their own style of music and winning endorsements from the likes of Bono and Sinead O’Connor. Speaking about the group’s sound, musician Colm Ó Snodaigh said; “It’s an eight piece band, so it’s a big band, a big sound. In the last few years we’ve taken in a new member who’s exclusively a drummer, it’s the first time. We’ve always had drums on stage but they were only used for one or two tracks, but is the first time we’ve had that kind of sound all the way through it. There’s fiddle, flute, pipes, bodhrán, drums, mandolin, guitar, bass guitar, it’s kind of a big sound. It suits the festival stage in a way and it’s very dance-y music.” He said that he loves seeing people moving to the music at their shows. “It’s great fun to be honest with you. Probably …

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Ennis woman leading the dance in Jimmy’s Hall

JIMMY’S Hall, Ken Loach’s latest film, casts an eye back on an Ireland in the firm grip of unbending conservatism and an Ennis woman plays one of the lead roles. Simone Kirby plays the love interest of Jimmy Gralton, who set up a dance hall in 1930’s Leitrim, before being deported from his home country on a flimsy pretext. Another Ennis actor, Denise Gough, also has a smaller part. Speaking from London, Simone explained the story and how Gralton became a victim of the prevailing powers of the time. “The real Jimmy Gralton was deported from Ireland back in the ’30s. I’d never heard of him, we never learned about him in school or anything so it was news to me that anyone had been deported from Ireland. Basically, he had opened a dance hall on his father’s land and the Church were unimpressed, because education and dances had always been under their control. Suddenly, there was this dance hall …

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Recognition for society’s Superstar

Shannon Musical Society has been nominated for six national awards for its recent stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar. The society hasn’t had so many nominations for the Association of Irish Musical Societies (AIMS) awards since 1993, when they presented Half a Sixpence to the Shannon audiences. This year, the Shannon group has been nominated for best overall show, against stiff competition from around the country. The last time they were nominated for this award, it was for their production of The Wiz in 2006 and, prior to that, they were nominated for Hot Mikado in 2000. That show was directed by twins Sean and Brian Power. This year, Sean Power stepped out of the family partnership and directed on his own for the first time and he was delighted to be nominated in the best director category. The Shannon group has also been nominated for best visuals. This award encompasses costumes, props, hair and make-up. Jesus Christ Superstar relies …

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Fleadh Nua’s ‘winning formula’

They say life begins at 40. The ruby anniversary of Fleadh Nua in Ennis is certainly in full swing, with a host of events taking place throughout the county capital this week, attracting visitors from around the country and further afield. And providing a much welcome boost to the local economy. It is fair to say that in deciding to move the fledgling Fleadh Nua out of Dublin and to bring it west of the Shannon, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí was taking a risk. But, with the benefit of 40 years of hindsight, it was an inspired move, as the festival has thrived in the heartland of traditional music that is County Clare. Writing in Treoir in 1974, Gerard O’Grady observed, “Many had considered that a Fleadh Nua outside Dublin would be a flop. It was the very opposite and it can now take its place in the world of traditional festivals. As a country traditional festival, and with the very high …

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