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Arts & Culture

Virtual St Patrick’s Day celebrations planned for Kilrush

ST PATRICK’S Day festivities will go virtual this year in Kilrush, with the community determined to look ahead to brighter days, while celebrating the local parades tradition that is so dear to local hearts. A 12-strong committee involving business and community leaders has been working hard to ensure people still have the chance to celebrate, despite the Level 5 lockdown restrictions. Taking the theme of ‘Sending Grá’ to family and friends who are away from home on March 17, the virtual celebration aims to engage people of all ages. The streets and shops have been decorated in the town and organisers are inviting people of all ages to submit entries to art and photography competitions and to send in photos of vintage vehicles that would normally be getting polished and ready to take to the streets for the parade. There’s also a Jerusalema Challenge for family bubbles and socially-distanced groups. “The Kilrush St Patrick’s Day Parade has always been a …

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Susan shares message of hope and inner strength

LAHINCH-based singer-songwriter Susan Quirke has shared a new single ‘To the Bone’, which features on her eagerly-anticipated debut album Into the Sea, due out next month. The single is described as “a timely, soothing, and uplifting song” about drawing on our personal reserves of strength in times of trouble. “Many people are experiencing deep pain, grief, loneliness and isolation as a result of the pandemic,” Susan said. “In many ways suffering is part of the human journey, as is the tremendous courage, resilience and strength people can often demonstrate during tough times.” Susan’s reasons for writing the song are deeply personal, but speak to the universal struggles created by Covid-19. “I wrote this song for someone in my life who was going through a difficult time,” she said. “It was written as an invocation for them, calling on them to remember their power and strength. It’s also written as a balm to soothe people’s hearts and minds. It starts off …

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Drama shot in North Clare to air from Sunday night

NORTH Clare is to feature prominently in one of the year’s most eagerly awaited home-grown drama series, Smother, which will air on RTÉ One next Sunday night. Shot on location in Lahinch, Liscannor, Spanish Point, Fanore, Ennistymon and Lisdoonvarna, the six-part drama is described as a “domestic noir thriller,” and is a co-production with BBC. It was filmed last year in adherence with pandemic guidelines. The high-end production featured a number of locals as crew members and extras. Writer Kate O’Riordan, who worked on the hit series Mr Selfridge, created the family thriller which sees her tight-knit family of characters gradually unearth deeply buried secrets and live with their unintended consequences. The all-star cast is headed up by Dervla Kirwan who plays matriarch Val – a devoted mother who is determined to protect her family and particularly her three daughters Jenny, Anna, and Grace, at any cost. Jenny (played by Niamh Walsh of Good Omens and Jamestown is a doctor, facing …

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Lou finds fresh inspiration from folklore

SIXMILEBRIDGE singer-songwriter, Lou McMahon continues to find inspiration in folklore with the release of her remixed and remastered single ‘Pockets of Change’, produced by Terry Woods of The Pogues. The track, which had its first Irish air play on The Blue of the Night with Bernard Clarke on Lyric FM last week, tells the story of a girl who loses the will to live, until she is saved by love. It was originally written and recorded in 2008 for the EP Delicate Dancer, and is a follow up to ‘Wide Eyed Lady’, a single which was also remixed and re-released last November. The gothic-themed video for that track clocked up more than 40,000 views on social media platforms and achieved both airplay across Ireland, the UK, Slovakia and Italy. Lou is also fresh from guesting with an international collective of 56 musicians calling themselves The PoguestrA. Using remote technology to record together over the course of the 2020 lockdowns, The …

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Pride event to be considered for Clare

A PRIDE event for Clare is being explored as part of an initiative to give a voice to members of the LGBTQ+ community in this county. An online survey has been launched this week by LGBTQ+ Clare to establish the needs of this community in the Banner County and to look at how its visibility can be boosted. The organisation is particularly interested in hearing about how connected members feel as a community. They are also asking whether they feel their identity and/or gender are understood and respected, or whether they experience discrimination. The survey results will help to assess what services and supports would improve local engagement and community spirit within the LGBTQ+ community in the Clare area. The organisations involved also hope to use the survey results to organise activities and opportunities including social meet-ups, political participation, campaigns and possibly a Pride event in Clare. “The aim is to make the supports and services that are available for LGBTQ+ people in other parts …

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Author Ryan mines the rich seam of rural life

A POPULAR and critical phenomenon since the publication of The Spinning Heart in 2012, Donal Ryan will be the subject of the Ennis Book Club Festival’s Bookclub Meet and Greet event on Saturday. It’s a chance for readers to have some face time with the author, as he talks about his latest novel Strange Flowers, with the conversation to be facilitated by a Festival committee member. Since publication last year Strange Flowers has proved hugely popular with readers and won glowing reviews from critics, as all Ryan’s earlier novels have. “It’s always a worry when you put a book into the world, you don’t know what way it’s going to go, but it’s been great, it’s selling well, it was great to win the novel of the year award, it’s a great feeling because it’s voted by readers, so it’s extra special,” says the Tipperary man. The themes of Strange Flowers include loss, alienation, the redemptive power of love, while …

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New book reveals murdered cleric’s Clare links

THE story of a Catholic priest who was brutally murdered during the War of Independence has been compiled in a new book by a Kilfenora native with a passion for history. Retired teacher Pat O’Looney, who lives in Loughrea, has painstakingly researched the history of Fr Michael Griffin, a man who himself had strong Clare links. The cleric’s death is one of the most notorious incidents of the dark year of 1920 and send shock waves around the world. Pat’s book A Zealous Priest tells the story of the young junior curate. As the war was reaching its height, Fr Griffin was a junior the parishes of Bushypark and Barna. A known IRA sympathiser, he was just 28 when he was taken from his home in Galway city and murdered by crown forces. “He had a number of Clare connections, though he was born in Ballinasloe,” explained Pat. “His grandfather was from Corofin and when Fr Griffin was ordained, his …

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Doolin dancer Tess is ‘Immersed in Blue’

AN INSPIRING video essay has been released by a Doolin dancer, urging people to use creativity and the natural world to support them in these challenging times. In the piece, filmed by Clem McInerney, Tess McGovern, an Irish dancer and teacher, relates how her world came to a stop last March and how she found solace in her native Doolin. The script, which Tess spent several months perfecting, describes the onset of the pandemic and how “waves of worry rose and the darkness set in, like a wild Atlantic storm the challenges grew, under siege by the westerly winds”. “Last March, I was working with the Milwaukee Irish Dance Company who, like all Irish dancers in America would be really busy around St Patrick’s Day,” Tess told The Champion. “It’s a time I would normally be teaching, gigging and lecturing. Then stuff started getting cancelled. The States were slower to go into lockdown but I got back on March 19 …

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