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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 and on Friday we have Jurgen Suttner, who is one of the great modern concertina makers from Germany. He will look at the German/Irish connections in terms of concertina making,” said Tim.

“The concertina is part of the Irish cultural landscape since the mid 1800s. The instrument only started being made in the 1820s. The instruments that flooded into this part of the world, particularly in the early 1900s were cheap German made concertinas. They were very popular because they weren’t expensive,”he explained.

Following the opening a concertina by candlelight will take place featuring Noel Hill and Jack Talty.

“We have workshops on Saturday and Sunday at the CBS primary school in Ennis. We’re also showcasing young players. Very often, at these festivals, young players don’t get highlighted at all. It’s very much the adult players so we’re showcasing six top young musicians from Clare on the Saturday and on Sunday we’re doing the same with concertina players from different parts of the country,” he added.

Mr Collins recently formed a group who will perform at the festival at 9pm on Saturday.
“We called it ICE (Irish Concertina Ensemble). It’s myself and four other players Pádraig Rynne, Edel Fox, Míchéal O’Raghallaigh and Cáitlin Nic Gabhann. It’s about presenting the concertina in a new context, a bit like a chamber quintet. It’s a very new idea,” he explained.
The festival office will be located in the lobby of the Old Ground Hotel. The full schedule is available on www.consairtin.ie

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