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Clare Village Resounds with Music

12th Shannonside Winter Music Weekend Bigger and Better

Sixmilebridge, Co Clare: With an impressive line-up that included Eleanor Shanley, Sliabh Notes, and bluegrass band Special Consensus from the US, the Shannonside Winter Music Weekend in Sixmilebridge, organised by Sixmilebridge Folk Club, was a great place to revive the spirit and banish any post-Christmas blues. Held over the weekend 13 – 16 January, there were 48 events over the four days, and one common complaint was the dilemma of choosing one event over another.

“This problem was eased by the fact that many acts played a number of times over the weekend, so missing Mutefish at McGregor’s on Friday night was easily compensated by catching them at the Old House the following evening,” says festival chairman Brendan Walsh.

The very varied programming also gave the many visitors to the small Clare village a chance to sample a stunning range of musical styles, from French chanson to rocking blues to sublime jazz, with a fair amount of Irish traditional music and song into the bargain.

Venues ranged from the pool room at the back of the Greyhound Bar to the local Courthouse building, where the atmosphere was electric, but all the music was acoustic. The Bunratty Castle Hotel has been part of the festival for the last three years, and provided a very comfortable setting for some great performances, and a successful new setting for the Ceilidh on Sunday afternoon.

One special highlight of the weekend, if there can be just the one, was the 22-piece Diversus Guitar Ensemble, whose extraordinary concert in the local church drew a crowd of 350 mid-afternoon Sunday. After that, it was time for the blues, as the TVs stayed on for Munster’s undignified defeat in France while Hot Lips and Chilli Fingers from the UK blasted out mighty renditions Gallagher and Clapton classics. Then Frankie Lane and Paul Kelly were in the Old House for their third gig of the weekend, and a great one too. Frankie’s slide guitar haunts and sways, his voice warms and mesmerises while Paul Kelly plays mandolin and fiddle with a style and finesse to charm the birds from the trees.

Sunday evening finished up in the Mill Bar, a great big barn when extended, but busy and buzzing with good cheer. McDarragh from Cork played a lively set of traditional tunes and a few songs, Bowtriplets from Switzerland (via Sweden and Wexford) played their fine versions of Irish songs and tunes as well as some wonderful original material on uilleann Pipes, fiddle, guitar and voices. Bluegrass band Special Consensus gave the festival a fitting finale with an energetic set of songs and tunes, displaying some incredible musical technique on the way on Banjo, bass fiddle, guitar and Mandolin, as well as with their four smooth voices.

“The festival committee were delighted with numbers – the ticketed events sold out well ahead of time this year, thanks to increased marketing efforts – but we acknowledge that the festival could be an even better experience for musicians and listeners. All weekend, people were asked to complete short survey forms as the committee gather information from their customers, and we hope to use that information to guide an even bigger and still better festival for the coming years,” adds Brendan Walsh.

For information on other activities of the Sixmilebridge Folk Club, check or find them on facebook and

Permalink - Posted: January 20, 2011 at 5:53 pm