THE Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, who controversially hit the headlines earlier this year after grappling with a protester at a 1916 memorial ceremony in Dublin, is set to visit Clare next week.
Ambassador Kevin Vickers will be special guest at Quilty’s Star of the Sea Church where Summer Music on the Shannon (SMS) will be hosting a fundraising concert on August 3.
The incident at the wreath-laying service in Dublin’s Grangegorman Military Cemetery for British soldiers killed during The Rising was not the first time that Ambassador Vickers has taken action. He was hailed a hero in 2014 after stopping a terrorist attack by shooting and killing a lone gunman who was attempting to storm the Canadian parliament building.
The ambassador has accepted an invitation to attend the concert in Quilty and another in Limerick on the previous day, from fellow Canadian and the driving force behind SMS, Bob Creech.
According to Mr Creech, the international summer school and festival has always had a strong connection with Canada and it seemed apt that Ambassador Vickers would be invited to come.
“I have a connection with the embassy, being Canadian myself and we’ve had Canadians here every year for the past 23 years since this began. We bring Canadian musicians over to work with European musicians, it’s one of our policies. We had a concert in Quilty last year and it drew a great crowd and I just thought it would be a good idea to invite the ambassador, so I did.”
He said he is delighted to be able to welcome the man who stopped a terrorist attack in Canada to this year’s festival, and he hopes that the ambassador will enjoy his visit.
“The Star of the Sea Church is a beautiful venue and I’m sure he will enjoy it. I’ve been speaking with his secretary in the run-up to this and I get the impression that he is looking forward to it.”
Mr Creech said he was not surprised that the high profile ambassador chose to come to Clare.
“The embassy in Dublin has been very supportive of us for a long time, so I’m not surprised he accepted the invitation. We actually took a bunch of student musicians to a concert in the embassy a few years ago.”
While in Quilty, the ambassador will be treated to a fundraising classical concert conducted by Samuel Barton and featuring musicians from eight countries, with soloists from the teaching staff also performing. They will be performing music for virtuoso strings and woodwinds by Mozart, Weber, Ysaye and Brahms.
And when asked if the ambassador is a fan of classical music, Mr Creech laughed, “He must be if he’s coming to this”.