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Wings promoter Damian O’Rourke with his guardian angels Lenka Fairy and Andrea Kafonkova. Damian says he is planning to develop the festival further for next year.

Wings festival soars to success in Shannon


THE inaugural Wings Music Festival came to its end last Sunday night, with a raucous session at the Shannon Springs.

The festival began six days earlier and saw music and performance at a number of venues around the town, including Saturday night’s show at the Leisure Centre, which featured Luka Bloom, Cyril O’Donoghue and Mickey Dunne.

Wings was the brainchild of Damian O’Rourke, who put in a great effort to organise venues, musicians and to get the town engaged with the festival.

Speaking this week, he said that the first and last sessions, both open to all musicians and held at the Shannon Springs Hotel, were the highlights for him.

“The opening session on the Monday, and then closing on the Sunday, they were pretty special, people just came in and played songs.

“On Sunday we started at 1pm in the Shannon Springs and it was going for 11 and a half hours.

“I’d say it was the longest recorded session in the history of Shannon!

“It started out with six of us and at one stage there were 20. The Kirby family came in, all of them playing traditional music, other singers from around the town, musicians too.

“The gigs were great, but those open sessions are special because they bring everyone together in a very relaxed environment.”

He says that having music in the Town Centre worked very well.

“We put the two venues in the Town Centre in a place where people would walk by, see it and know stuff was going on. If they didn’t know it was happening, they’d hear it on the night.

“The venues were pretty full all week and there was a lot of good feedback since, and you know if people are talking about something a few days afterwards, that it was good.”

He really wants to run the festival again in 2023.

“Oh definitely, definitely. I’ll be meeting people this week to talk about next year. I want to reflect on this one, see what can be done better, and just try and develop it next year, keeping the same people involved.

“The locals are the key to this and I want to keep them involved and part of it. I’d really love to have Shannon known as a music town. That’s my goal, it’s my goal in general and I want this festival to help create that and build on what we have.”

Damian feels there is a lot of local musical talent, and that it’s important that it be heard in Shannon.

“It’s there, it’s always been there, it just needs to be shown in Shannon. We have the best musicians who go off and travel with their music, but it just needs to be shown here.

“That session last night had the best of the best in Shannon coming in and we absolutely tore the roof off the place, the buzz was great.”

At one point during the closing session, he said that he reflected on how music can bring people together.

“At one stage I was looking at people just gathered, chatting, smiling and singing along and I thought ‘that’s community’.”

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.