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*Artist Lynn Kirkham’s angel wings. 

Anticipation is swirling around Mountshannon air as a special merger between the Trad Festival and the Arts Festival comes to fruition next weekend.

Regeneration is the theme of the two mini-festivals which take place as part of the Mountshannon Arts Festival in East Clare that sees the Aistear Park serve as centre stage hosting an open air market.

With one event already completed since June, the second is scheduled to run from September 24th to 26th which had been a staple part of the calendar for the Mountshannon Trad Festival running from 2010 to 2019 while this 2021 marks the 25th year of the Arts Festival.

Funding secured under the Live Outdoor Local Performance Scheme from Clare County Council by Cliodhna Donnellan who was co-ordinator of the Trad Festival has allowed the creation of the collaboration.

Cliodhna explained, “It became this fantastic opportunity of collaborating and working together through the circumstances of the restrictions we find ourselves in. In the current climate where we see an awful lot of festivals having to pull back, some not happening, some going online, it has opened up massive new opportunities and specifically in Mountshannon where you have an eclectic mix of people living here for the past thirty to fifty years. The whole focus of what the two groups are about is very much the same, aims and ambitions to bring people and the community together, to showcase different art forms that we might not be familiar with, what we’re doing this year is quite unique”.

Over the past eighteen months, she has presented The Morning Dew on Scariff Bay which give traditional musicians a platform during a difficult time for the arts. “The climate has been so volatile for our sector over the past eighteen months so it’s impossible to know what next year will bring but it does open the opportunity to look beyond what we just see, there are other ways of working and ways of existing and supporting each other in a very small community so that all artists can benefit, this emerged organically through a very constrained situation,” the Mountshannon musician stated.

Dublin native Mel White is a new addition to the festival committee this year having previously been involved with equivalents in Temple Bar. “I want people to realise if the Arts don’t exist especially in small rural areas then it is very sad, we need this here, we need the festival every year,” the visual artist commented. With a ten-person committee of mixed nationalities and different ages, she labelled the group behind the Arts Festival as “a melting pot”.

Of her aspirations for the upcoming events, Mel shared, “It is about bringing people together, we have the galleries, the pop-up shops, people spend money and a percentage of that goes back into the event. I created a poster for the Festival this year, because it is the twenty fifth one I wanted it to sell, I used all creatures that regenerate, that will be available online and in the pop-up shops. It is something missing, Mountshannon Arts don’t have their own merchandise, it will be nice to bring that in and include it in the interpretative centre”.

For a full schedule of all the events, visit https://www.mountshannonarts.ie/

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