Clifden Arts Week launches on Monday

Clifden Community Arts Week, the west of Ireland’s most prominent and longest running community arts festival, will return this September for its 34th year of artistic celebration. Taking place from September 15 to 25, the festival boasts an impressive line up of national and international talent with a jam-packed programme that covers all spectrums of the arts from literature and music to theatre, film, and comedy, as well as inspirational talks and lectures and a dedicated schools’ programme.

This year’s highlights include readings from presidential candidate and politician Michael D Higgins and Ireland Professor of Poetry Harry Clifton with Leanne O’Sullivan. The impressive literary programme also includes poets Dermot Healy, Louis DePaor, Tom Paulin and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, and Eilean Ní Chuilleanan and Macdara Woods, who as husband and wife are great pioneers for modern Irish poetry. Playwright and novelist Thomas Kilroy will also read as will Hennessey New Irish Writer of the Year and local Clifden woman Siobhan Mannion.

The Irish Chamber Orchestra will make a welcome return to Clifden as they perform in concert with fiddle player Martin Hayes and guitarist Dennis Cahill while the RTE Vanburgh Quartet, one of Europe’s most successful string quartets, will execute a breathtaking concert fresh from their recent 25th anniversary celebrations. Another major attraction to the Clifden Arts Festival this year is The Alan Kelly Gang who will perform with internationally acclaimed Scottish songstress Eddi Reader, previously of acoustic pop group Fairground Attraction who famously harmonized with Annie Lennox when touring with the Eurythmics.

We also look forward to the return of talented pianist John O’Conor and the formidable Cherish the Ladies who have undoubtedly become one of the most engaging ensembles in the history of Irish music, and to welcoming the sensational Cor Chuil Aodha choir with Peadar O’Riada on their first visit. Clifden is delighted to welcome jazz guitarist Martin Taylor and the sensational 13-year-old Andreas Varady who has been playing the guitar since he was four years old. There is also a strong traditional and sean-nós programme featuring Brendan Begley, Tommy Peoples, and Lisa Kelly along with sean-nós group The Listeners.

Like every other year, the local Clifden community schools are at the heart of the Clifden Community Arts Week Festival, where the vision was nurtured and became a reality. From Monday September 19 to Friday September 23 the schools will play host to a number of different events which will help to educate and encourage local students in appreciating the arts. A variety of workshops will take place throughout the week including writing, guitar, meditation, knitting, crochet, and singing with Marie Sheridan. And as 2011 is the dedicated Year of Craft, Crafts Council of Ireland member and internationally acclaimed basket maker Joe Hogan who recently collaborated with designer Joanne Hynes will give workshops on his craft. The students will also enjoy a week long film festival, performances from aerial dance group Fidget Feet and LuxE, specialist talks and lectures over a broad range of topics from counselling to crime writing, musical concerts and readings from Michael Coady, Gabriel Fitzmaurice, and Davnet Heery - Bicycles with Umbrellas, to name but a few.

Theatre and film have made a significant contribution to the Clifden Arts Week programme over the years and the 2011 bill is just as impressive. Professor Dermot Diamond will explore The Science of Flann O’Brien with actor Fergus Cronin while a multi media commemoration will be held in honour of the Shackleton Centenary Event 1911-2011. This fantastic production will consist of music, theatre, illustrated talks, poetry, song, and contemporary newspaper readings with the unique cast including Jonathan Shackleton, Neale Webb, and composers and musicians Breifne Holohan, Simon O’Dwyer, and Michael Holohan.

Other noteworthy highlights include a talk by Irish Times journalist Lorna Siggins on the Corrib gas controversy, a talk by Dr Eimear O’Connor HRHA on the life and work of Sean Keating and comedic performances from Dead Cat Bounce of RTE Republic of Telly fame and the hilarious Kevin McAleer. The festival will also feature a dedicated arts trail which will exhibit the work of artists who reside in, are inspired by, or visit Clifden and its surrounding areas. Key artists to watch out for include sculptor John Coll, painter Rosemary Carr, and Donald Teskey RHA.

Renowned for generating the very best in artistic and literary talent, Clifden Arts Week never fails to ignite the spirit of the Clifden community and the surrounding areas of Connemara, while attracting an abundance of visitors from all over Ireland and overseas year after year. The 2011 festival programme looks set to be a huge success with a fantastic line up that adds another colourful splash to Galway’s calendar of artistic events.

Full details of the 34th Clifden Community Arts Festival and the current line-up can be found online at www.clifdenartsweek.ie

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