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Milwaukee, USA, 19th August 07 - Over 400 people from all over North
America and Ireland danced the ‘The Siege of Ennis’ at the world’s
largest Irish festival today. The Céilí Siege was held at the
Milwaukee Irish Fest in Wisconsin where over 140,000 festival goers
have congregated this week for a celebration of Irish music, food,
history, heritage, dance, sports and culture.

Today’s session was hosted by a tourism delegation from County Clare,
which has travelled to the Milwaukee in recognition of the fact that
The Banner County has been named at the central theme of this year’s

Based in the festival’s ‘Cultural Village’, organisations such as
Clare County Council, Shannon Development, the Clare Tourist Council,
the Clare Tourism Forum and Shannon Heritage have organised a series
of events aimed at showcasing the County. The Clare delegation has
also been distributing tens of thousands of promotional brochures on
Shannon Airport and the region’s tourist attractions.

“Today’s ‘Siege of Ennis’ was more of a fun event than a set-dancing
lesson for those involved, whether they were beginners or experienced
dancers. It featured various dance schools and teachers from
Milwaukee and Chicago and participants of all ages from as far away as
San Francisco and Canada, the organisation of which has been ongoing
for months”, explained Carmel Greene of Clare County Council.

Ms. Greene, who is also the Director of the annual Ennis Trad
Festival, said that Irish dancing and set-dancing had become extremely
popular throughout the United States largely due to celebrations of
Irish culture at festivals in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Ohio, Kansas,
Chicago, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Colorado, Buffalo and Michigan. It
is also very popular in areas such as Japan and the UK.

She explained, “Historically, traditional Irish dancing was done at
social events. Even when Irish immigrants came to the US they would
seek out dance or social events to meet others in the Irish community.
The social element to Irish dancing remains but increased public
interest in Irish culture has led to a surge in number of dancing
teachers and schools appearing around the United States. This can
only be good for the future development of Irish dancing and set

With the recent surge of interest in Irish dance, stages featuring
step dancing have become a popular attraction for festival goers at
the Milwaukee Irish Fest. Guests can also learn Set dancing at
workshops held daily in the week prior to the Festival. The Festival’s
Dance Pavilion is open during all hours of the festival and this year
features performances from Cherish the Ladies and the Clare Céilí
Band. Other participating artists featured at the 2007 Fest include
Gaelic Storm, the Celtic Tenors, Damien Dempsey, Beoga, the Dave
Munnelly Band, Finbar McCarthy and the Steel Bonnets.

The ‘Siege of Ennis’ session, meanwhile, is one a number of events
being hosted by the Clare Tourism delegation to promote the various
aspects of Clare’s history, culture and heritage. Members of the
delegation are also delivering a series of public lectures. They
include presentations on two of Clare and Ireland’s most significant
historical figures, the last undisputed High King of Ireland Brian
Ború and the founder of the GAA Michael Cusack.

While the Clare tourism delegation’s promotional drive in Milwaukee is
expected to lead to plenty of interest in the County, a number of
other Clare-based musicians, cultural event organisers and artists
have also travelled to the Fest.

On Friday, Muiris O Rochain, founder and director of the famed Willie
Clancy School, addressed festivalgoers about the musical heritage of
County Clare. Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy is Ireland’s largest
traditional music summer school, held annually since 1973 in memory of
the piper Willie Clancy. During the week, nearly a thousand students
from every part of the world travel to Miltown Malbay to attend daily
classes taught by experts in Irish music and dance.

Elsewhere, the Clare Céilí Band are performing throughout the four-day
festival while Cherish the Ladies musician Joanie Madden, whose mother
hails from Miltown Malbay is providing Tin Whistle classes for
intermediate and advanced musicians.

Clare will also be represented at the Festival by Susan Minogue and
Ann Moloney of the Clare Crafts Association who are showcasing
craftwork unique to County Clare, local artist Philip Brennan who is
hosting a class entitled ‘View the landscape and natural life of the
Burren and County Clare through the eyes of an artist’, and the Ennis
Players who are staging four performances of their award winning
production of ‘The Dandy Dolls’.

Permalink - Posted: August 20, 2007 at 12:03 pm