Tourist offices and rock groups don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand but that looks set to change dramatically judging by the success of a new music venture in Killaloe.
Three new rock groups who are trying to make the breakthrough in the local music scene are busy rehearsing in Shannon Development’s Tourist Office on the historic bridge linking the twin communities of Killaloe and Ballina.
The dream of unearthing Clare’s answer to the next U2 has become a more realistic possibility, thanks to a new rock school being promoted by the Killaloe/Ballina Family Resource Centre and Music in the Glen.
The seeds for this exciting initiative for would-be-musicians were sown over a year ago when the IRMA Music Network donated musical equipment worth in the region of €10,000 to the Killaloe/Ballina Family Resource Centre.
This included an eight-track recording studio, keyboards, base guitars, acoustic guitars, PA system, drums, microphones and a variety of other musical instruments.
All the equipment was lying idle for about six months until young teenagers started practising in the Resource Centre. This proved to be unsuitable for their needs, so Shannon Development’s Tourist Office was secured as a temporary measure until it re-opens in May.
Boris Hunka, who runs the Killaloe-based Music in the Glen music school with Diane Daly, is providing the tuition to hone the musical talents of teenagers in South-East Clare.
Community development worker, Tracey Doyle told The Clare Champion it was great to get someone like Mr Hunke on board because of his extensive knowledge and experience of the music industry.
Between 1996 and 2004, Mr Hunka ran a music production company in London, whose project studio hosted artists like Mika and Sandi Thom at various times, both of whom would later reach number one in UK album and singles charts.
The three bands rehearse once or twice a week and Ms Doyle is really encouraged by the success of the project to date.
“It is great for the band members to build up confidence in their own ability thanks to having somewhere to practise and having someone like Boris Hunka to teach and guide them.
“One of the bands, Make Damm Sure won the ‘F’ factor competition in Flanagan’s recently and they only came together for their first performance for the Plectrum Music Festival last June. They are starting to get gigs and make money, which is great for them,” she said.
She confirmed that efforts were now being made to source an alternative venue to replace the tourist office once it re-opened.
Mr Hunke hopes to officially start the new rock school early next month for teenagers who want to play music together in a band and those who want to learn how to play an instrument.
While the details haven’t been fully finalised, Mr Hunka said that he might split the teenagers into two groups; one for those in the eight to 11 age category and the second one for children aged 12 and upwards. He hopes to base it on a similar concept to the music project he is involved with in Limerick City as part of the regeneration programme, where a number of music teachers including guitar tutor, Paul Browne from Ogonnelloe; Limerick-based drummer, Bart Kiely, and Limerick keyboard player, Jacqueline Hynes, show students how to play. Mr Hunka is excited about the potential of the project in Killaloe and Ballina.
“I hope to be able to extend this project to Scariff and possibly other parts of Clare. It is great to be able to give new talented young musicians a start. There is a lot of creative talent in Killaloe and Ballina and who knows we might find the next U2. There are a lack of activities for teenagers aged between 12 and 18 in Ballina and Killaloe,” he added.
A group of teenagers from Ballina and Killaloe – Jered Nadin, Dermo Buckley, Niall Quinn, Brendan Pooley and Seán Connolly came together to form a new band, Make Damm Sure. Disorderly is made up of teenagers from East Clare including Scariff, Mountshannon, Whitegate and Killaloe. They are Thomas McCormack, Jack Foley, Cathal Keenan and Conor Cunningham.
The third band, which has members from Ballina and Scariff – Rebecca Doyle, Thomas McCormack, Fintan O’Grady and Enda Gillen – hasn’t chosen a name yet.