THE promotion of Irish traditional music in Clare can generate major economic tourism benefits, according to Senator David Norris.
Senator Norris, who is hoping to be elected the next President of Ireland, will officially launch Friars’ Féile this Thursday night in Cruises Bar, Ennis at 8.30pm.
Speaking to The Clare Champion, Senator Norris pointed out Clare is renowned for its rich tradition of Irish music, dancing, folklore, diverse culture and landscape.
“I am looking forward to returning to Clare to launch this event. I am aware that the Ennis Friars played a significant role in the life of Ennis down through the decades and I hope to get a chance to examine the ruins of the abbey in the town. I still remember the Kilfenora Céilí Band when I was growing up, while Clare has also produced countless other talented musicians and dancers over the years.
“Clare has so much to offer visitors and I think the real potential of Irish music and dancing hasn’t been fully realised for the county. Other tourist attractions, such as the magnificent Cliffs of Moher, will benefit if more visitors are attracted to hear Irish traditional music and dancing in Ennis,” he said.
Growing up, he recalled one of his next-door neighbours in Dublin was a Mrs O’Siocrú, who was a sister of the late Brendan O’Regan, who established the first Duty Free. Senator Norris pointed out the O’Regan family ran the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis providing top-class accommodation, which was vital to attract tourists to the county.
The objectives of the festival, which runs from this Thursday to this Sunday night, are to dramatically improve sales for local pubs and restaurants, increase brand awareness of Ennis as a music and fun destination and start an annual event, which will grow every year.
The Ennis Friars played a major role in the development of Ennis as a thriving market town. During the 12th century, the O’Briens, who were Kings of Thomond, left their seat of power in Limerick and built a royal residence at Clonroad on the then island. During 1240, King Donnchadh O’Brien ordered the construction of an extensive church grounds, which he later donated to recently formatted followers of St Francis. The Friars’ keep was expanded and students came in great flocks to study at the theological college. The Friars met the spiritual needs of the local population. As it never had town walls, it became a location for many Catholic merchants from Limerick when Catholics were forbidden to reside in the walled towns by the Penal Laws and much of its past prosperity is attributable to this influx.