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Arts & Culture

East Clare musician wins prestigious young player of year award

TULLA musician Sorcha Costello is to be honoured as part of the highly prestigious TG4 Gradam Ceoil, which was launched in Belfast last night, writes Fiona McGarry. The talented fiddle player was chosen as Ceoltóir Óg na Bliana and will be presented with the award at ceremony that will be broadcast on TG4 on October 31 at 9.30pm. Sorcha, who is now Galway-based, but returns regularly to Tulla to teach told The Champion of her delight at the award. “To receive this honour is just mind-blowing,” she said. “I play for the love and enjoyment of music and it’s a huge honour to have that recognised.” Sorcha is the daughter of MÓrglór Award winner, Mary MacNamara, and Kevin Costello, who makes and repairs concertinas. Mary, was Sorcha’s first music teacher, and according to her daughter is herself “a secret fiddle player”. “Dad is a lovely singer and a great dancer,” Sorcha added. “Both of them are over the moon at …

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Kent sisters do Clare proud at World Dance Cup

TWO students of Breakthrough Dance Company in Ennis have represented Ireland at the World Dance Cup and earned themselves respectable positions among the top-class finalists, writes Conor Clohessy. Leilani (14) and Saoirse Kent (12) had been taking contemporary dance classes with Breakthrough for several years before they decided to audition for Team Ireland in 2019 and were on-course to going to Rome for the Dance World Cup in 2020 before Covid restrictions prevented it. Instead, entries were taken in video format, and the girls entered a total of three categories; Leilani placed 19th in the world in the “lyrical” category, Saoirse earned herself 23rd place in the “contemporary” category, and the sisters combined their efforts to achieve 10th in the world for their contemporary duet entry. Laura Jane Allis, founder of Breakthrough Dance Company and their dance instructor, said: “The competition scene is relatively new to the school, it wasn’t ever something we had focused on in the past, but …

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Festival co-operation a great exercise in ‘community building’

REGENERATION and resilience will be celebrated in Mountshannon later this month, thanks to a collaboration between diverse members of the East Clare arts community. The pandemic presented all kinds of hurdles in terms of live performance and, after taking their offerings online in 2020, Mountshannon Arts Festival this year opted for two mini-festivals on the theme of ‘regeneration’. The first event was held in June and the second is scheduled for September 24-26, traditionally the weekend of the Mountshannon Trad Festival, which ran to huge acclaim between 2010 and 2019. Aistear Park will be the focal point for a weekend of arts events and traditional music and will host an open air market for the duration. The collaboration has been made possible thanks to a funding award secured by Cliodhna Donnellan, artist, promoter, producer and co-ordinator of Mountshannon Trad Festival, under the Live Outdoor Local Performance Scheme from Clare County Council. The event will provide a platform for traditional artists …

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Exhibition’s visual reflections on lockdown

LOCKDOWN is seen through the eyes of an artist in a new exhibition, reflecting on the impact of the pandemic, which is to open next month in Kinvara. KAVA (Kinvara Area Visual Arts) member Christopher Banahan will present new work based on his lockdown diaries and his creative response to Covid-19. Supported by the prestigious Arts Council’s Covid-19 Crisis Response Award, ‘Lockdown Diary’ addresses themes of loneliness and the effects of social isolation during the lockdowns, particularly for the elderly and the vulnerable in rural communities. On the flip-side, the exhibition also considers the positive impacts of the lockdowns, such as the re-evaluation of the natural beauty of local rural settings and the joys of being surrounded by such ‘imprisoned splendour’ particularly with the fine weather of the first lockdown last year. “The experience of working in isolation comes naturally and productively for most artists but when the isolation is imposed by the government, it is a different experience altogether,” …

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Artists collaborate for Clare holy well project

AN EVOCATIVE exhibition inspired by the holy wells of the Burren runs in North Clare until Sunday August 22. Entitled ‘From the Well’, it is an immersive exhibition by composer Fiona Linnane and photographer Claire O’Rorke who have drawn on local stories sourced from the Cnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (The National Folklore Collection) and their own experiences “chasing wells across the Burren hills armed with a microphone and a camera”. The show, in the atmospheric Newtown Castle at the Burren College of Art, also includes a specially produced sound walk exploring three water points in Ballyvaughan. These can be heard online on Fiona Linnane’s SoundCloud account at any time up to Sunday as part of Heritage Week. Central to the exhibition are three short films, entitled ‘holywells’, ‘I bought a hydrophone’, and ‘Some woman’. Visitors will also be invited to share their own stories about the magical wells of the Burren, with the sage advice of never letting the truth get …

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€1.5m hit to North Clare as Doolin Folk Festival cancelled

THE Doolin Folk Festival, which had been due to take place on September 18-19, has been cancelled for the second year in a row, writes Owen Ryan. Donal Minihane of Hotel Doolin said that it was too risky not to make the call now. “It’s a big investment and it’s too much of a risk to be holding out and holding out. There’s a roadmap coming at the end of August from the Department, but we don’t know what’s in it. There’s too much risk involved. “To be fair to the ticket holders, the artists, the crews and everyone involved, we had to let them know.” He said it would have been very positive for Doolin and its surrounds given the number of tickets sold each year. “It’s a huge amount of bed nights for the area. There would have been 1,200 tickets and it sells out every year. All of those people have to sleep somewhere, eat somewhere and …

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Ennistymon’s Poet Laureate revealed

AS Ennistymon prepares to take part in the nationwide Poetry Town initiative next month, its new Poet Laureate was revealed today. Poetry Ireland, in conjunction with Clare County Council Arts Office, has appointed Grace Wells as the Poet Laureate for the town. An award-winning eco-poet, author, re-wilder, and yoga teacher, Grace says she was looking forward to celebrating the town’s “dynamic sense of place”. She added: “I love living in Ennistymon and am so proud to be invited to be the town’s Laureate. As an eco-poet navigating the griefs of environmental collapse, it’s so helpful to belong to a community where people are genuinely working to halt Ireland’s biodiversity loss, and actively creating initiatives to help the country become carbon-neutral. “Poetry can support these transitions. Ennistymon already has rich literary roots, it’s both the birthplace of Brian Merriman, and the home of Salmon Press, so I’m hoping to fuse some of these creative energies together, and really celebrate the town’s …

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National craft campaign puts spotlight on Ennis designer

DESIGNER Laura Vaughan is the latest talented craftsperson to join the high profile ‘Made Local’ campaign. This is the second year of the prestigious initiative from the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland and Laura, who has a degree in interior architecture, was selected for her creative curation of the work of other Irish designers and makers, as well as her own range of products Laura’s Design Studio and Gift Shop is a working studio located on Upper O’Connell Street in Ennis. As well as showcasing the work of other designers, Laura offers her own range of digitally printed lampshade, matching cushions, napkins, tea towels and aprons. Combining her background in interiors and textiles, Laura launched her own distinctive homeware range at Showcase 2016, and her patterns and products are constantly evolving and growing. Laura’s collection is designed and made and printed in Ireland and as well ask making her own shades, Laura offers a lampshade restoration and making service …

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