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Wexford Opera Festival features three little known operas every year.

A night at the opera

The Wexford Opera Festival is a bit of an unusual proposition but it works and has done for years. Take three obscure operas, some of which haven’t seen the light of day since their début performance, and stage them again over the course of a few weeks. Of course, some operas are obscure for a reason and maybe they should be left mouldering but for every duffer there are several gems. This year was promising, with all three operas sung in Italian. It’s a general rule of mine not to go near German language opera. I find it dark and depressing. Surprisingly, opera in English is often woefully bad. There’s the advantage of being able to fully understand what’s going on without resorting to subtitles but there’s just something wrong about English language opera. You’re generally safer sticking with Italian or at a pinch, French. We travelled down in the aftermath of Ophelia and just before storm Brian made itself …

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Shining a light on Loop Head’s maritime history

WEST Clare’s maritime history and unique landscape will be showcased at Loop Head Lighthouse this May Bank Holiday weekend through its status as one of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland. This weekend a flagship festival will take place at eight of the 12 Great Lighthouses of Ireland, an all-island tourism initiative that also includes lighthouses at Hook Head in Wexford, Valentia Island in Kerry and Donegal’s Fanad Head. Loop Head will offer family-friendly events that include tours, storytelling and a local food and craft showcase. On Bank Holiday Monday, a guided walk will be hosted along the peninsula from 11am, while there will be food-tasting stalls from 12 noon until 2pm. “This three-day weekend festival celebrates the best of Loop Head’s stunning coastline through a series of events and workshops. The public will be able to enjoy the stories of our maritime past, explore the tower to discover its hidden secrets, get tips on being safe and enjoying our coast …

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Tulla prepares for Cnoc na Gaoithe

The third annual  Féile Cnoc na Gaoithe gets underway in Tulla on the last weekend of this month. Celebrating fiddle music, with fiddle workshops, competitions and recitals, the cast is headed up by the legendary fiddle-player, Maurice Lennon, with Liam O’Connor, Anton MacGabhann, Bernadette Nic Gabhann and local legendary fiddle-player, Vincent Griffin. The festival highlights include a performance by Maurice Lennon. His father, Ben Lennon, is well-known as a master of the Leitrim style of traditional fiddle and his uncle, Charlie Lennon, is renowned as a composer, piano accompanist and fiddler. At 19, Maurice became the youngest person to win the Senior Fiddle Championship at the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil, held in Ennis in 1977. Shortly after this, he joined with three other All-Ireland champions to form Stockton’s Wing, with local Clare musicians, Kieran Hanrahan, Paul Roche and Tommy Hayes, with whom he composed, recorded and performed for the next 27 years. More recently, he has been composing and travelling the …

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‘Spring’ into Music with Clare Music Makers

CLARE Music Maker’s will host their 15th non-competitive festival in the Temple Gate Hotel this weekend. This event gives all Clare Music Maker’s students an opportunity to perform for families, friends and an adjudicator. Each student receives a certificate from the adjudicator. The festival, on Sunday, welcomes violinist Áine Kelly as adjudicator this year. Over her 20 years as a teacher and performer Áine has created, developed and directed two children’s orchestras, one of which received a national award during the children’s Orchestra Music Festival held annually in the National Concert Hall, Dublin. Áine is now based in Galway and performs on a regular basis with her String Quartet “Strings Serenade” and she also works as a deputy player with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and Con Tempo, the Galway Music in Residency String Quartet. All members of the public are invited to ‘drop in’ to the Temple Gate at any time during the festival and hear the talented children perform. …

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The life of Brian for Paddy’s Day

PLANS are underway for this year’s St Patrick’s Day parade in Ennis with the theme ‘The Life of Brian Boú’. The parade will follow the established route from Áras Contae an Chláir, New Road and proceed along Newbridge Road, O’Connell Square, O’Connell Street and to terminate in the market. The parade will commence at 11am and is expected to take between an hour and an hour and a half to pass the reviewing stand which will be located in O’Connell Square. There will be some level of pedestrianisation at either side of the parade event, but it is not envisaged there will be full pedestrianisation. This year a delegation from Lagenfeld in Germany will be visiting Ennis for the St Patrick’s festivities. Invitations have also been sent by Ennis Town Council to St Paul de Fenouillet in France and Phoenix, Arizona who have twinning relationships with Ennis.

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Philomena author for Ennis Book Club Festival

MARTIN Sixsmith, the journalist and author, whose book inspired the critically acclaimed and Oscar nominated film Philomena, will appear at the Ennis Book Club Festival just days after the Academy Awards ceremony. He is just one of many well known authors and personalities who will visit the town in March for the popular festival. Ciana Campbell of the Ennis Book Club Festival voluntary committee said they are delighted to welcome Sixsmith to Ennis, along with the other participants. “It’s all taken off for him; it’s been brilliant so we are looking forward to welcoming him. In fact he seems very enthusiastic about coming here. He will be here just after the Oscars ceremony, but Oscar or no Oscar the success has been phenomenal for him,” she outlined. In 2009 Sixsmith wrote The Lost Child of Philomena Lee about the forcible separation of a Limerick mother and child by the nuns of an Irish convent during the 1950s, and the subsequent …

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Tulla Trad Festival kicks off this Friday

The Tulla Trad Festival will kick off this Friday  with a parade through the East Clare village by the Chapel Gate Wrenboys. Dressed in traditional costumes, the wrenboys will lead the torch lit procession at 8pm, which will ensure that music resounds across the village signalling the start of the festival’s programme of events. The procession concludes at Tulla Courthouse where the group will give a performance following the official opening by musicians and Clare FM presenter, Eoin O’Neill. According to the organisers,interest for this year’s festival workshops is coming from not alone all the four provinces and across the UK but across Europe. “A group of musicians are boarding a train south of Paris for Cherbourg then by ferry to Rosslare and on by bus to Ennis especially for Zoe Conway’s workshop. Zoe, who will be amongst the tutors at the workshops, is among the most sought after fiddle tutor worldwide.  Her list of achievements belies her youthful age …

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