It has been announced that Mountshannon is to host a second festival, this time one dedicated to traditional music.
The Mountshannon Trad Weekend, the brainchild of Cliodhna Donnellan and Pauline Madden, follows the success of the inagural East Clare Fiddle Festival, which took place in Feakle earlier this summer.
The new traditional music and song festival will take place in September and is the first time Mountshannon has hosted a weekend dedicated to traditional music.
With so many other traditional music-centred festivals in the East Clare area, event co-ordinator Cliodhna acknowledges that there are “no guarantees” when trying to organise such events but feels there are a few key ingredients that are absolutely necessary for any music weekend to work.
“It is crucial to have the interest and backing of all the publicians in the town to give a weekend any hope of getting up and going. Indeed, it was through discussions with Pauline Madden, proprietor of the Mountshannon Hotel, who stated that she wanted to start a trad weekend, that we both sat down and devised this weekend. Pauline spoke with the other publicians, who showed great interest and support for the weekend. Pauline said, ‘if others can do it, we can’. I believe she is right. There are a lot of musicians living in the Mountshannon region, many who have expressed many times over the last number of years the lack of sessions in our area. With the recent traditional session started and this up-coming weekend, I am hoping that Mountshannon will find itself celebrating the music and song of our area and become rooted in it, especially with the numbers of musicians residing here. I think there is a right time and place for these events to begin and Mountshannon is currently a thriving village again with new shops, restaurants and pubs re-opening in the last couple of years. The services are here, the interest is here and the people are here to give it a go,” Cliodhna continued.
She said that the idea of having more traditional music in Mountshannon has been a topic of conversation over the past number of years and something she felt should be acted upon.
“That is why this year it is all about just playing music and singing rather than providing any workshops or concerts. Over the past number of months there has been a traditional music session in the Mountshannon Hotel every Friday night, which we hope will continue throughout the winter months. It became apparent the level of local interest in the trad session and the number of people travelling to it to listen or have a song or sometimes a round-the-house set. Every week for the past number of months, we have other talented musicians from the surrounding towns such as Scariff, Whitegate, Killaloe and even Limerick coming to Mountshannon, even by boat, to play and share their music,” Cliodhna said.
As there are no workshops or concerts as part of the inaugoral line-up, the event according to Cliodhna, is more of a traditional weekend than a festival.
“The programme consists of sessions and a céilí featuring local and visiting musicians. It is almost like a concluding weekend to a summer-long packed programme of festivals around the country. As most other traditional music festivals provide workshops around being taught music, the aim for this weekend is to privide something different. The focus following this year is to devise a questionaire, which will be posted on the Mountshannon Trad Weekend Facebook page that will invite musicians to express their thoughts and feelings on what type of workshop they would like to see being offered at a weekend like this in the future. For instance, I have had suggestions for a workshop on fiddle maintenance and set-up. Another suggestion was for a workshop on concert or performance preparation and structure and a singing workshop. A lot will depend on the feedback received over the coming months on what may be offered in the future or even if such workshops are viable,” she explained.
Cliodhna is currently completing an MA in Traditional Irish Music performance at University of Limerick and explained that the trad weekend will feature musicians from this year’s graduates as well as so many other local musicians.
“For a number of years now, I am meeting fellow musicians and the question is always the same – ‘any tune lately?’.
“There are so many musicians living in this area who, for different reasons, do not have the opportunity to play. A weekend like this provides opportunities for musicians to get together and share their music. It gives our children the opportunity to experience and share in the rich heritage of traditional music that we ourselves grew up with and experience the bond of friendships that our music brings to us,” Cliodhna concluded.
The event will kick off with the weekly traditional session on Friday night, September 24, in the Mountshannon Hotel with Seamus Bugler, Cliodhna Donnellan and friends. The Bridge Bar will also host a session with Denise Glass and friends from Garrykennedy.
The final session will take place at the Bridge Bar at 4pm on Sunday September 26, with a number of the guest musicians returning for a final performance.