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Island record-breaking bid for Ennis Brass Band

THE Ennis Brass Band are hoping to get themselves into the Guinness Book of World Records, as the first brass band to have ever played on all three Aran Islands in one day.
The band, who this year celebrate 40 years in existence, recently visited Inis Mór, Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr where they played for islanders and tourists. According to Darragh McAllister of the Ennis Brass Band, it is now hoped the venture will make it into the record books.
“We are going to ring the Guinness Book of Records about this. And if they don’t have a record, we will try and get them to put us in. We have all the documentary evidence of us being on all the islands,” he said.
He explained where the idea for the record attempt came from. “We often take trips away and it was decided that since we were celebrating our 40th anniversary this year, we would have to do something together. Aran was an ideal choice because it was where the band took its first holiday in 1990. Given the occasion, it was then suggested that we should make it extra special and it was thought unlikely that any brass band has ever played on all three islands in one day.”
The record attempt began on their first stop, Inis Mór, with the band standing on the pier as a multi-national delegation of tourists got off the ferry. The band members then wasted no time in getting to Inis Meáin. “The band were warmly welcomed by locals, walkers and staff at Ostán Inishmeán. Our Galway hosts enjoyed the first brass performance on the island in living memory.” Another trip across the sea and the band made land on Aran’s nearest island to Clare, Inis Oírr. Tí Ruairí was the final venue for the record attempt with an enthusiastic crowd cheering them on as they made history.
The record-breaking attempt is just one of many events organised by the band to celebrate their 40th birthday. This Friday at the Old Ground Hotel, the band will launch the first of a series of ‘flash’ performances dubbed Weather-Permitting.
Darragh explained, “This will hopefully be a series of outdoor concerts that will be held throughout the town. The series is tentatively titled Weather-Permitting because we have been planning this for years and we haven’t had a summer good enough for it. This is a totally different concept for us and it’s about bringing our music to the people of Ennis. We put so much effort into practising all year round, however, almost exclusively, the people of the town only get to hear us in the St Patrick’s Day Parade and we’re about so much more than that.
“We are delighted to be marching in the parade, we really do support it and we’re proud of our involvement. But at the moment, it’s mainly continentals or those who go to competitions who get to hear us play the stuff we really enjoy playing. And at the parade, people only get to hear a few seconds before we’ve moved on. We want to be able to give people a chance to see the breadth of what we can do.”
“The idea for the series comes from when we had a few good summers in the ’80s. We used to practice over in the Ennis Community College, or the Tech as we used to call it. It was too unbearably hot to practise so we used to go outside and as people were passing by, they would stop and listen. We thought that’s the best way to get people’s attention and it’s a good way to give something back to the town,” he added.
The performances themselves will be relatively spontaneous, only being decided on and advertised days in advance due to the ever-changing weather conditions.
“There is nothing worse than spending weeks practising for something only to have it cancelled because of the weather so we will be doing everything at very short notice. And we will be playing songs that are very light, not very technical. Already, we have a few venues who have expressed an interest in getting involved so we’ll just see how the weather goes.”
It is hoped that by showcasing what the band can do, more people will express an interest in membership. Darragh said past members of the band are particularly welcome to the performances. “Over the years, we may have lost contact with some of our former members and we would love it if they came along for some of the performances. It would be great to get together. Who knows, we might even organise a big ‘family portrait’ of everyone who has been in the band in the past 40 years. To do something like that would need the support of the whole town but it would be amazing.” Other events planned to celebrate the anniversary include a gala concert to be held in the lead-up to Christmas.
Weather-Permitting will be launched in the garden of the Old Ground Hotel this Friday at 8pm.

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