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Arts & Culture

Concertina convention comes to town

by Peter O’Connell THE first staging of the National Concertina Convention (Consairtín) will be held in Ennis this weekend.  The festival directors are concertina player and teacher Tim Collins along with Áine Hensey, who is also very involved in the traditional arts in Clare. “It’s a new music festival on the music landscape of Clare,” Tim said. “It’s about capturing the colossal interest in the instrument, not just in Clare anymore. In the last 20 or 30 years the concertina has become a very popular instrument right across the country and beyond. “Áine Hensey and I felt that the time was right to bring an international festival to Ennis that would capture the interest in the instrument. We have a broad weekend planned including a mixture of teaching and a lot of performances,” he added. The festival will be officially opened by Jurgen Suttner on Friday at 7.30pm in the Old Ground Hotel. “There are lectures as well each day …

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Another award for renowed Killaloe accordion player

By Dan Danaher RENOWNED Killaloe accordion player, Martin Connolly was presented with an award during the Kincora Music Weekend recently. Martin accepted the award on behalf of his family as the accolade was an official recognition of the huge contribution made by the Connolly family to Irish music, song and dance. Martin received a piece of glass crystal with an inscription the “Fort of Kincora”, which is a reference to some of his previous work. He will also be honoured in his own home town by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCE) during the Clare Fleadh. CCE Ard Sturthoir, Labharas O’Murchu will present Gradam an Chomhaltais to the Killaloe native. Clare CCE public relations officer, Councillor Joe Arkins said it was fitting that Mr Connolly should be feted in his own home place following his “immense” contribution to Irish traditional music, in particular accordeon playing. In addition to winning several All-Ireland titles as a performer, Clare’s first citizen noted he had repeated this …

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Showband airs in the Áras

AS HEAD of the students’ union in UCG, Michael D Higgins was not too far removed from the showband scene and a town closely associated with that famous era. More recently, and now as President of Ireland, he was brought down memory lane and reminded of what the showbands meant to places like Tuam. Names of famous showbands and musicians were recalled when he visited the Galway town, at the invitation of a local committee, to honour a person who, more than anybody else in the town, was responsible for sending hundreds of musicians on the road. All were well capable of playing with the best, whether it was with  showbands, garda or army bands from the late 1950s. President Higgins also attended the launch of a new CD, featuring the best of local showbands. Since receiving a copy, the precints of his residence, Áras an Uachtaráin in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, echo to the sounds of some of the famous  …

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Chris scores a Gradam award

CLARE concertina-player, Chris Droney is to be honoured with the TG4 Lifetime Achievement Award at TG4 Gradam Ceoil 2014, which takes place a the University Concert Hall on Saturday, April 12. This year’s Gradam recipients range over a wide spectrum of talents. As well as the venerable North Clare concertina-player Chris Droney, they include the Limerick-born doyen of Irish musicology in North America, Mick Moloney; one of Connemara’s most versatile sean-nós singers; a member of the latest generation in a Sliabh Luachra musical dynasty; and a trio of musicians whose musical collaboration has brought to life again a unique musical manuscript trove from Munster that had lain dormant for 130 years. Chris Droney has been selected for this year’s TG4 Lifetime Achievement Award. Born in 1924, Chris is a noted concertina stylist from Belharbour, who has followed in the footsteps of his father, James, and grandfather, Michael (1829-1927), who also played concertina. Chris learned to play by ear and parental …

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Shane Kelly as Wan Word and Noel Hogan as PJ, during Sliabh Aughty Drama Group's rehearsal of Unforgiven in Mountshannon on Saturday.

Results are in from Clare Drama Festival

TOPPING the play bill at this year’s Clare Drama Festival in the confined section was Skibbereen Theatre Society’s production of No Romance, while Bradán Players performance of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf took first place in the open section. The results at the 67th annual Clare Drama Festival were revealed when the adjudicator, Tony Rushforth gave his views on the performances held in Scariff over the past two weeks. There were two Clare award winners in the confined section with second place going to the East Clare based Sliabh Aughty Drama Group for their production of Unforgiven by John McDwyer. Meanwhile Doonbeg Drama Group took the third spot with their performance of Cavalcaders by Billy Roche. Second place in the open competition went to Nenagh Players for their staging of The Outgoing Tide by Bruce Graham, while Kilmeen Drama Group took third place with the Enda Walsh play The Walworth Farce.

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Darragh drummer coming to Glór

By Owen Ryan HERMITAGE Green are about to tour a number of Irish venues and they will be coming to Glór in Ennis on next Saturday night. While often referred to as a Limerick group, percussionist Dermot Sheedy is from Darragh and he spoke to the Champion last week from Nashville, where the group were working. “We were in Vancouver for a week, we played two gigs there for Celtic Fest and we came to Nashville the other day. We’re working with loads of loads of different producers and labels over here to see what we can do. We’re writing a lot of songs and laying them down, it’s basically music heaven over here, two of the lads were at Music Row yesterday which is like a big housing estate where every house is a studio. We’re having great craic over here, there’s a lot of work but hopefully it’ll bear fruit.” Most people associate Nashville with country, but he …

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From left, Saoirse Byrne as Annie, Maeve Plunkett as Chris, Rachael Culligan as Celia, Sandra Cox as Cora and Rita Brady as Jessie. Photograph by John Kelly

Counting down the days

With rehearsals running into the earlier hours over the past couple of weeks, there is great excitement in the countdown to the opening performance of The Calendar Girls at Glór next week. Expectations are high that the Ennis Players’ production will draw full houses for the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday night performances. In celebrating its 40th anniversary, the local drama group decided to give something back to the community for their loyal support. Cahercalla Hospice, Sláinte An Chláir, West Clare Mini Marathon Cancer Care Centre and the Alzheimers’ Day Care Centre in Ennis were selected to benefit from the proceeds of the four special performances. Speaking to The Clare Champion, media sponsors for the project, Ennis Players chairperson, Jackie Scanlon, commented, “We are delighted to present Tim Firth’s hilarious and thought-provoking play, The Calendar Girls, to Ennis audiences and further afield. “Directed by Allen Flynn, the play tells the story of a group of English ladies who had the ingenious …

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Calendar Girls is on at Glór from March 26 to 29.

Calendar Girls Competition

Don’t forget, there’s still time to enter our fabulous Calendar Girls competition. Together with The Old Ground Hotel, we are giving away a nights accommodation and dinner for two at the Old Ground, with tickets for two to see Ennis Players’ production of Calendar Girls at Glór, which runs from Wednesday, March 26 to Saturday, March 29. To be in with a chance, just send us your favourite recipe – it can be starter, soup, main course or dessert. Full details in The Clare Champion, dated March 14 and in this week’s issue, on sale this Thursday. Ennis Players are celebrating 40 years this year and the production of Calendar Girls will benefit four local charities: The Ennis branch of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Cahercalla Community Hospital and Hospice, Clare Cancer Support and West Clare Cancer Services

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