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Sharon Shannon partners with prestigious university music programme

ACCLAIMED Corofin musician Sharon Shannon is to open this year’s Arts in Action programme at NUI Galway, in advance of a partnership between the Clare woman and the university’s music degree programme.

On Wednesday, February 17, the accordion player will feature, alongside guitarist Jim Murray, in a free online lunchtime concert. The event will be presented as the 2021 Jean Ritchie Lecture and will celebrate Sharon’s musical virtuosity as well as the future potential arising from her engagement with music students as the next generation of emerging artists.

The partnership will see Sharon delivering a series of masterclasses that look at different facets of the creation, performance and production of traditional Irish music, along with her long-time collaborator, Irish-American fiddle player, Win Horan. These masterclasses will be used as part of the teaching of traditional music modules within the new BA in Music. Sharon and Win will follow up the masterclasses with six live workshops per year, in which they will discuss traditional Irish music directly with the students.

“I’m delighted to be involved with the Music Department, and am really excited about sharing my music with the students at NUI Galway via the online masterclass series we have developed.,” Sharon said. “It’s also a great honour to perform along with Jim Murray in celebrating Arts in Action in 2021 and to help re-launch the late Mary McPartlan’s great series.”

This will be the first Arts in Action programme to be presented following the death of the programme’s founding director and curator, Ms McPartlan, an accomplished folk singer and educator, in spring 2020. In celebration of her life, the theme of this limited 2021 programme is ‘art as legacy’, and it features traditional and classical music, drama, performance and literary events. The programme, which runs from February to May, reflects specifically on the legacy left by Ms McPartlan as the programme draws on many of her frequent collaborators and contacts.

Head of Music at NUI Galway, Dr Aidan Thomson said he was delighted students would have the opportunity to work with a musician of the calibre of Sharon Shannon. “Galway has a rich history of traditional music, and it is wonderful that one of its greatest exponents should be able to share her expertise with our students, and in turn greatly enhance their learning.”

Dr Charlotte McIvor, Interim Arts in Action Artistic Director, described the partnership with Sharon Shannon as “the most fitting tribute I can think of to honour Mary’s legacy with the relaunch of her beloved series”. “Mary had intended to have Sharon headline this year,” she added, “and we are glad to carry forward her wishes and reignite her legacy through the presentation of this 2021 Arts in Action programme.”

This year’s Arts in Action will present a rich programme of music that will feature performances from Máirtín O’Connor, Séamie O’Dowd and Cathal Hayden; Seán Ryan, Mick Crehan and Greg Cotter; Leah Redmond, soprano and Dearbhla Collins, piano, and Simon Mawhinney in association with Music for Galway.

The programme will also include a theatre production of ‘Sacrificial Wind Revival’ in memory of Mary McPartlan; and RTÉ broadcaster Vincent Woods in conversation with traditional Irish musician, Mick Moloney in ‘Green Fields and Granite Songs’.

The entire programme will be presented online, free of charge, providing viewers nationally and internationally a chance to share in it. The range of art forms and artists represented within the Arts in Action programme reflects the diversity and strength of the creative arts at NUI Galway, including the work of staff. Acclaimed novelist Mike McCormack and internationally recognised digital artist EL Putnam who lecture in English and Digital Media at NUI Galway will contribute a new work to the programme in April.


To attend free live-streamed events, log on to Eventbrite.ie and search for Arts in Action Sharon Shannon.



About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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