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Phase one of Cnoc na Gaoithe opens

THE town of The Windswept Hill will be a hive of activity later this month as Féile Chnoc na Gaoithe gets underway on Thursday, June 28, continuing until Sunday, July 1.

The event has been organised to celebrate the official opening of phase one of Cnoc na Gaoithe, The Tulla Comhaltas Cultural Centre, and will showcase all the many cultural activities proposed to take place here.
Showcasing the rich traditional culture of music, song and dance in County Clare, the Féile plays host to a wealth of renowned musicians who are coming to Tulla especially for this get-together.
The convent buildings were donated by The Sisters of Mercy to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in October 2011. Eight months later, following a lot of hard work and fundraising, phase one has finally come to fruition with the support of LEADER through the CLDC, the Jackson Foundation and the local community. 
The cultural centre will be officially opened by Councillor Pat Hayes, Mayor of Clare and will be followed by an address from Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú, ardstiurthóir CCÉ on Thursday, June 28 at 7pm, where the Tulla Pipe Band will lead the proceedings.
The Cnoc na Gaoithe Seisiún Group, along with Scoil Uí Ruairc School of Dancing and the East Clare Fiddlers, will also perform for the event and the session continues at 8.30pm with an outdoor céilí with the Tulla Céilí Band at Cnoc na Gaoithe. 
Festivities continue on Friday, June 29 at 9pm when an East Clare Session will be held at Cnoc na Gaoithe featuring a host of eminent local musicians including Vincent Griffin, Mary Corry, Mary and Andrew MacNamara, Pat O’Connor, Kate McNamara and Michael Landers.
A fiddle feis will kick start a full day of activities on Saturday, June 30, at 10am and will be followed at 2.30pm with the Young Fiddler of East Clare competition.
Aimed at young musicians who have not been placed in first, second or third place at fleadh competitions in the under 12 and 15 age group, the fiddle feis is open to those under the age of 10, 12, and 15 on January 1, 2012. Musicians who have been placed in the U-9 category at Fleadh Cheoil are also eligible to compete.
The U-10 competition takes place at 10am and entrants need to play one tune of their choice, the U-12 competition takes place at 11am, where entrants must play two tunes, preferably contrasting tunes, and the U-15 competition takes place at 12 noon where entrants must play two contrasting tunes. There is an entry fee for this competition and more details of how to book a place and the prizes on offer are available by emailing cnocnagaoithe@gmail.com or phoning Ann on 086 1040276, Breda on 087 8350996 or Angela on 087 1715760.
After lunch, the Young Fiddler of East Clare gets underway at 2.30pm. This competition is aimed at proficient musicians and is about musicality rather than technicality and the result will be announced at the Vincent Griffin Tribute Concert at Tulla Courthouse on Saturday night.  
Competitors must play two selections of their choice, for example, a selection of reels and jigs.
Musicians must be over 15 years and under 18 years on January 1, 2012 and again there is an entrance fee.
The highlight of the weekend is The Vincent Griffin Tribute Concert, which takes place at 8pm in the Tulla Courthouse on Saturday, June 30.
This will be a star-studded concert featuring many traditional Irish music greats including Paddy O’Donoghue, Peter Mackey, Maura O’Keeffe, John Kelly, Eamon McGiviney, Nicky and Anne McAuliffe, Catherine McEvoy as well as a host of local musicians who have played music with Vincent down through the years.
The musicians will be joined by well-known dancers and singers, which when combined, will produce a thoroughly enjoyable evening of entertainment. Vincent Griffin will also launch his new C.D at this concert, entitled Vincent Griffin and Friends.
This will be followed by a post-launch session and refreshments at Minogue’s Bar.
Vincent won the Senior All-Ireland title both in melody and slow air playing in the 1970s. He has always been very generous with his music and has worked tirelessly to promote and teach traditional Irish music for many years.
He is a member of Tulla Comhaltas since it was founded in 1957 and is currently honorary president of the branch and a patron of Cnoc na Gaoithe, The Tulla Comhaltas Cultural Centre.
The Féile continues on Sunday, July 1, with a closing session of music from 12 noon in the Powerhouse, led by Vincent Griffin and all are welcome to join.
Since work began on the convent building, it has been reroofed, which involved removing the original slates which were over 120 years old, they were then cleaned and treated and the majority of them were reused.
The existing windows were removed, cleaned down, treated, painted, reglazed and reinstalled, while the electrical and plumbing were also updated.
Phase one of the project, which has now been completed, sees the provision of an archive room, one education room, kitchen, bathroom and reception area.
A programme of events will get fully underway in the cultural centre on July 3, when the committee will start their summer seisiún.
Seisún provides a unique entertainment experience for holidaymakers at centres all around Ireland during the months of July and August featuring the authentic traditional entertainment as enjoyed by generations of Irish people.
Seisiún will be held each Tuesday night at 8pm from July 3 until August 14.
When the summer season is over, Cnoc na Gaoithe will operate classes in a variety of traditional art forms from September 2012. It will also have meeting rooms/teaching rooms available to the public.
It is expected work on phase two of this project will commence before the end of this year as an application for funding for phase two is expected to be lodged in August. Phase two includes work on the rest of the convent.
For further information, email cnocnagaoithe@gmail.com or phone Ann on 086 1040276, Breda on 087 8350996 or Angela on 087 1715760.


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