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Arts & Culture

Arts community get creative in the face of Covid-19 restrictions

CLARE’S vibrant arts sector is the envy of many counties. Renowned globally for its traditional music, the Banner county not only produces some of the finest creative talents, it also attracts musicians, dancers and artists who come here for inspiration and in the hope that a thriving artistic scene will support them in making a living on the path less travelled. Now, in the context of ongoing pandemic restrictions, access to audiences at venues like galleries, concert venues and pubs, and to collaborators, is shut down, for now. So too are vital income streams. While some government support is available in the form of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, as well as a COVID-19 Crisis Response Award from the Arts Council, many are facing serious set-backs financially and creatively. Renowned Newmarket-based visual artist Philip Brennan faced the extraordinary experience recently of having a freshly-installed exhibition hanging in empty halls behind the doors of a locked building. After more than two decades …

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Blow to East Clare as Feakle Festival is cancelled

THE festival calendar for East Clare has suffered another major blow with the cancellation of the Feakle Festival, due to the Covid-19 restrictions. Organisers said they decided to cut this year’s event – which would ordinarily attract thousands to the region at the height of the summer season – “with deep regret,” in order to minimise the risk to the general public. Already, the legendary Spancilhill Fair has been called off, with organisers deciding that they could not guarantee social distancing at the event which draws thousands annually on the now immortalised date of June 23. A number of smaller community festivals, including the Bodyke May Bank Holiday Weekend, have also been shelved, with hopes of postponing some of them as the government’s road map for the re-opening of public life begins to unfold. In Feakle, a world-class programme of traditional music had been under wraps since February and there is widespread disappointment that the hugely popular festival won’t go ahead …

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Bringing music home during Covid-19 with glór

ITS doors may be closed, but glór has been doing its bit to meet the challenges of Covid-19 by bringing people together – from the safety of their own homes. Director of the Ennis arts venue Orla Flanagan believes that shared experiences are an important way of bringing light into these uncertain times. With that in mind, the venue has launched glór sa Bhaile a new series of premier performances, bringing Clare’s finest artists direct from their homes to yours every Thursday evening at 8pm. Steo Wall and Jacinta Sheerin have already featured live from their home in Ennistymon with Katie Theasby set to feature this week. Orla explains, “We wanted to create something unique to glór, where essentially by providing this platform for artists, we could pay them and support them in this particularly challenging time, whilst also importantly connecting with our great and loyal audiences in Clare and beyond, to promote the wonderful talent we have on our …

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Lockdown exhibition for Inis Artists

A GROUP of Clare artists have been brushing up on their digital skills, bringing their latest exhibition of artworks on-line. The Inis Artists as a group have been in existence for more than 20 years and are noted for their extensive touring art exhibitions. In a normal year they would be involved in up to 14 different group exhibitions all over the country. However, this is not a normal year and all of their art exhibition venues are closed due to Covid-19, except Skycourt in Shannon. In order to bring their artwork to the public, they have come up with the idea of holding a virtual art exhibition. Calling it their ‘Spring Lockdown Exhibition 2020’ it displays the new work of their artists. Tomás O’Maoldomhnaigh PRO Inis Artists explains that much of the work reflects the artists’ emotions in this time of social distancing and lockdown. The virtual exhibition can be viewed on facebook.com/inis.artists Inis Artists were founded back in …

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West Clare Sparks Love of Acting for ‘Normal People’ Star

TO SAY that actor Paul Mescal has been “slightly busy” lately would be something of an understatement. While he may be under lock-down with his fellow Londoners at the moment, and a long way from Cree, where his father’s family hail from, this week has seen him basking in the glow of critical and popular acclaim for his lead role in the TV adaptation of novel ‘Normal People’. Playing the part of Connell, opposite Daisy Edgar-Jones as Marianne, Paul portrays a young man struggling with the highs and lows of first love, against a background of social snobbery, peer pressure and the transition to adult life. His powerful performance has earned the twenty-four year-old plaudits from heavy weight critics nationally and internationally, and tipped the Maynooth native for greater things. Paul told The Champion that the last 48 hours have been “absolutely mad”. “It’s been a bit bananas,” he said, of the buzz around the first episodes in the 12-part …

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Young people urged to share a day in their life for writing competition

CLARE’S young people are being urged to show they have the write stuff by getting involved in a new county-wide competition. Clare County Library have launched a creative writing competition for children and teenagers. “With schools currently closed and students working remotely on assignments set by teachers Clare County Library would like to offer a different type of exercise to children and teenagers aged between 7 and 15 who like to write stories,” explained a spokesperson. To enter, all you have to do is write a story up to 700 words based on ‘County Clare 2020: A Day in My Life’. Entries must be in before 12 noon on May 12. All entrants are asked to type their name and age at the end of their story and email their entry to library_mailbox@clarecoco.ie When sending entries include the words Creative Writing Competition as the email subject. The shortlisted and winning entries will be posted on www.clarelibrary.ie on June 3 and …

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Hit TV Show Lead Has West Clare Connections

RAVE reviews are being savoured by a young actor with strong Clare links, after a massively positive response to the series ‘Normal People’, directed by Oscar-nominee Lenny Abrahamson. Twenty-four year-old Paul Mescal, whose dad hails from Cree, plays Connell in the small-screen adaptation of the Booker-prize long-listed novel by Sally Rooney. His performance, alongside Daisy Edgar-Jones as Marianne, has been receiving critical and popular acclaim since the series opened this week on BBC, RTÉ and streaming service Hulu. Paul’s extended family in Cree have theatre in the blood with a big connection to the vibrant West Clare drama circuit. “My dad Paul grew up in Cree, the son of Michael and Mairéad, and we would have gotten back down to West Clare on lots of holidays over the years,” Paul told The Champion. The young actor, who grew up in Maynooth, County Kildare, lists Spanish Point as one of his favourite destinations and is hoping that once the lock-down eases, …

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Small Clare Parish Produces Special Show On Phones In Defiance Of Covid-19

A tiny Co. Clare community will bring a special and unique performance into its homes on Sunday night in a show of solidarity with parishoners during the Covid-19 lock-down. ‘Ogonnelloe Remembers’, a show commemorating the Easter Rising, will be broadcast on Facebook and Youtube on Sunday night at 8p.m. having been recorded on parishioners’ phones and produced this week. The 40 minute special ‘at home’ production, which is supported by Clare County Council, is a shortened version of the OGonnelloe community’s unique 1916 centenary commemoration that saw it create it’s own piece of theater to celebrate the Easter Rising. The show weaves celebrated songs and poems of the Rising together with a special diary from the time written by local man Tim Lynch that gives a fascinating insight into how word was received and anticipated of events in Dublin, some 200kms away from the picturesque parish on the shores of Lough Derg. The show is knit together brilliantly by a …

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