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Clare Musicians Home From Chile Thanks to Fans Generosity

THERE was huge relief on Monday last (March 23) for a group of Clare musicians who
braved major travel disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic to make their
way back to Shannon Airport from South America.
The nerve-wracking journey of Los Paddys took them more than 11,000
kilometres from Chile, and was fraught with uncertainty because of the
international travel chaos. With vast sections of international airspace shut
down and ongoing severe flight disruption, the six Clare members of the outfit
came close to finding themselves stranded on the other side of the world.
The musicians had been on a tour of Chile and Argentina for St Patrick’s Day,
and when their original travel plans were thrown into disarray, they had to
fundraise online to make alternative arrangements. Paddy Mulcahy, Head
Programmer for Los Paddys, told The Champion the response, which raised
more than €7,000, had been incredible and essential in getting them home.
“Our outward journey and the end of the tour was meant to be through
Argentina,” he explained. “Some of our team who were flying directly from
Chile to Europe also had their flights cut, to it was an uncertain and frightening
situation for a while. We made a Go Fund Me page to raise money for new
flights, which was generously supported by our friends, family and fans of the
band.”
The links between the Banner County and South America have been explored
by Paddy Mulcahy since he pioneered an ethnographic project on the topic in
2012. Entitled ‘Los Paddys de Las Pampas’, it gave rise to the hugely popular
fusion outfit, whose career highs to-date include performing for President
Michael D Higgins. Their 2020 tour of South America saw them perform at the
very first St Patrick’s Day parade in Santiago in Chile, which went ahead as
scheduled, before the full scale of the Coronavirus pandemic became apparent.
Celebrations soon turned to anxiety as a lock-down took hold in response to the
virus. “Our tour was cancelled half-way through with the onset of a lock-down,”
Paddy explained. “We put our resources into a plan to get home.”
The return journey took the crew from Santiago to Toronto, Toronto to London
and then to Shannon where they were warmly welcomed home –from a safe
distance – by airport staff, family, friends and fans, before going into self-
isolation.
Despite the uncertainly the group faced in getting out of Chile, Paddy said the
group were well looked after and were taking many positives from their
journey:

“We have been treated amazingly by the people of Chile. We played some amazing concerts and have had beautiful experiences.”

About Fiona McGarry

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Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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