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Damian O Rourke of Shannon who promotes good vibes through music on Cuppa Tea TV online. Photograph by John Kelly

Damian ensures the band plays on in Shannon

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DESPITE the obvious difficulties Damian O’Rourke has made great efforts over the last few years to develop local live music, and to give young people in Shannon an outlet, writes Owen Ryan.

Last weekend he was involved with Busker’s Way, an initiative to play live music in the Town Centre, as festive shoppers made their purchases.

“It’s something that we had going before Covid, but that kind of stopped it. When there was a bit of a break in that we got it going, but it stopped again,” said Damian, when he spoke to the Champion last Friday afternoon.

“I spoke to the manager Brian, he wanted to do something coming up to Christmas so we got a few buskers for last Friday and Saturday.”

At that time he was also preparing for a young people’s event to be held in the Town Centre on Wednesday, December 22.

“We’ll have seven young musicians in one of the units in the Town Centre, they’ll be having a song circle.

“I got something going called Le Chéile Le Cheoil, it started in Doolin and I’m trying to get it into the schools.

“We’ve had a couple of sessions in the Comp and we’ll hopefully get it into Caimin’s next year. I thought it’d be great to get a few students from the two schools together in the Town Centre and run that. The parents can come in as well and there’ll be a bit of craic.”

On Christmas Eve he said that a group called the Mangled Badgers would be doing a charity busk, and any other musicians were welcome to join them.

He has had multiple projects during the course of Covid-19 and he says he has tried to facilitate people’s desire to play.

“It’s been mad busy alright, just trying to keep things going, people need the music.

“Musicians need to play, young people need a platform to play and express themselves too. It’s been about coming up with ideas to keep that going.”

At the time he spoke to the Champion he was also getting ready for a concert in the Hope Cafe, which was finally happening after 18 months of postponements.

He said that Clare County Council was helping to fund it, and that the local authority has been very helpful.

“The Council have been great, they’ve funded several things lately. I’ve teamed up with Chris Walshe from Hippo Sound and Lighting, and Mike McGrath from Unit 5 Audio Services, we’ve done a few projects together, and there have been some ideas that the Council have funded.”

“Bualadh Bos was supported by the Council which was great, and we had another thing in the Oakwood, we recorded 17 musicians playing to make promotional videos for them. The concert on Sunday will be sponsored by the Council as well.”

While the long lockdowns have made things quite difficult at times, he said the circumstances have forced him to come up with new ideas too.

“It has been difficult, yeah, but it also made me think differently, think of other angles to make things happen, you know, keeping the restrictions in mind.

“There was a guideline allowing video and audio recordings to go ahead, and I started to focus on that a bit more.”

He wants to do more to bring music to Shannon’s young people in 2022.

“In the new year we’re looking at bringing Le Chéile Le Cheoil into the two schools, St Caimin’s and the Comp and try and get some crossover sessions if restricitons allow it. I’d also be looking at a youth and music festival in the New Year.”

He says he would like the festival to be a live event, across a few different venues in Shannon and he wants it to be very inclusive.

“We’ll be trying to involve everyone if we can and the local schools here in Shannon. That’s the plan for the New Year.”

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