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Town tunes up for trad festival

Ennis will provide a welcome break from the winter blues, the rain and the recession this weekend when the town resonates to the sound and strains of the best of Irish traditional music.
The county town will host the twentieth instalment of the Ennis Trad Festival and the festival’s magnetic appeal will draw musicians and audiences from all over the country and further afield, providing a financial fillip for those in the hospitality sector.
The official launch will take place this Thursday at 6pm in the front bar of The Queens Hotel. Ennis native, musician extraordinaire and noted scholar Dr Geraldine Cotter will cut the proverbial ribbon. All are welcome to attend or play as the mood takes them.
Later that night, at 8pm in The Great Hall of the Templegate Hotel, Ann Lynch-Loyns will launch her debut CD “Silvery Light”. Ann comes from near Oldcastle Co Meath but now lives close to Newmarket. She learnt her first songs from her mother and uncles.
Then The Josephine Marsh Band will headline the first gig of the festival at The Queens Hotel and this will be followed by Andrew McNamara’s eclectic mix of music aptly named ‘shuckin and Jivin’.
On Friday evening there will be an extensive trail of energetic music sessions throughout the town. The headline act of the evening at midnight in the Auburn Lodge Hotel features The Martin O’Connor Band with Cathal Hayden, Seamie O’Dowd and Jimmy Higgins.
Saturday is the busiest day of the festival with a range of activities suitable for all ages from early in the day right through to the wee hours. A series of instrument master classes will be held in various venues. Registration will take place in the foyer of The Queens Hotel from 10.30am and the classes with the festival’s top tutors will be aimed at intermediate to advanced students.
Enquiries about the classes can be addressed to edwardmcmahon@outlook.ie.
There will also be sean nos dancing and set dancing workshops open to all. Music sessions commence from 11.30am starting with the famous ‘Festival Fry’ and session in The Queens Hotel.  Sustenance is advised as further sessions take place in the afternoon, evening and night throughout the town.
Infamous traditional singer Dick Hogan will launch ‘The Hogan Collection’ at 7pm at The Old Ground Hotel. Dick is widely known for his big voice and for his rare and varied repertoire of songs. Often hilariously comic and always entertaining, Dick has produced a milestone anthology of songs in a massive 45 CD box set.
The high point of Saturday’s fare will take place at The Auburn Lodge Hotel from midnight. This year’s high octane Festival Club is a double feature showcasing the legendary Frankie Gavin with De Danann in The Auburn Lodge and the ever enjoyable trad disco by DJ Olly Mullooly taking place simultaneously elsewhere in the hotel.
The Festival Breakfast is available again at The Queens Hotel on Sunday with an early session. The session trail continues through the day in the supporting venues. Dancers can enjoy the Four Courts Céilí Band at a céilí in Cois na h-Abhana at 3 pm. At 5.30pm Rosin Broderick and Noel Battle launch their debut CD “Up and About in the Morning”.
From Corofin County Galway, Roisin is the reigning senior All-Ireland champion concertina player and she is joined by the veteran 12 times senior champion harmonica playing Noel Battle from Mullingar.
On Sunday night at 10pm in The Old Ground Hotel, the headline act will be Peter Carberry, a foremost exponent of the accordion with ace piper Padraig McGovern both masterfully accompanied by Brian Mooney, Seamus O Kane and Sabina McGovern on bouzouki, bodhran and harp respectively.
Fellow accordion master and Ennis native Tony McMahon will officially launch this band’s debut CD ‘Forgotten Gems’. While unfamiliar to Ennis audiences, this tensemble has assembled a prodigious repertoire reminiscent of the Irish music of bygone days yet breathe new life into old music.
The festival does not end there with some of the best music can be found on the somewhat calmer Monday.  Farewell sessions abound in select venues and the festival expects to go out with a considerable bang from 11.30 pm back at the Queens Hotel with a novel departure, ‘The Candlelight Soiree’.
The soiree is an intimate fireside, laid back style evening of music with Liam Lewis on fiddle, Graham Dunne on guitar and the festival director John Rynne on flute.  Several of Ireland’s top traditional and often comic songsters and song writers will join in.
To top it off the colourful Mairead Casey and  Suzanne Leahy will demonstrate their unique and exuberant solo dance skills in the old sean nos style.

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