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Clare will host a brand new food and drink festival this September, after being approved funding as part of Fáilte Ireland’s Taste The Island initiative. It comes as The Clare Echo can reveal that the Ennis Street Arts Festival and Ennis Food Festival have been discontinued.

Confirming that both festivals have respectively come to an end, Clare’s Festival and Events Coordinator Margaret O’Brien also revealed that Ennis was one of three towns in Ireland that has been supported by the ‘Taste The Island’ initiative, which will promote Ireland’s food and drink experiences to local and international visitors.

The Clare Food & Drink Fleadh takes place on September 27-29 and comes on the back of proposal made by Ms O’Brien to Fáilte Ireland earlier in the year.

“With the Clare Food & Drink Fleadh, the idea is that we put together food, drink and music – so if you want food and craic you come to Ennis,” Margaret told The Clare Echo, adding that some 40-plus music sessions will take place over the weekend along with live bands.

Fáilte Ireland will provide the festival with a national media campaign along with €5,000 in funding. This funding has been matched by Clare Tourism along with €1,500 from Ennis Municipal District, while it’s expected more funds will be generated by local businesses.

Margaret continued, “We’re starting on the Thursday night with a Feast of Clare, food prepared by five restaurants that are coming together in Ennis. We’re making our own gin, we had blind tasting recently and the gin is in production. It’s going to be called Ginis, an exceptional gin for the exceptional people of Inis. And we have a celebrity mixologist coming to town so we’ll have cocktail making with all the pubs participating.”

Events will also take place in glór such as a ‘Casablaca and cocktail’ night, while Bank Of Ireland are sponsoring a celebrity chef demonstration. No 41 and Treacy’s West County are hosting trad breakfasts featuring Meere’s produce, while the Town Hall is hosting a champagne and jazz night. Ms O’Brien confirmed that 14 satellite events are taking place around the county.

“The idea is to have a concept that runs throughout the weekend regardless of weather, so at the moment we have 12 cafes and restaurants signed up for small plates. We’ll sell vouchers of three for €25 and those are redeemable [at all participating eateries] so you can walk around the town and enjoy the different tastes.”

Ms O’Brien said she hoped the Food & Drink Fleadh will take forward the work done by the Ennis Food Festival, adding, “We need things like this to be a success in Clare just to be able to put on events like this and grow them and I think this will have legs because Taste the Island is an initiative which will become, word is, as big as the Gathering.”

Speaking about the demise of the Ennis Street Arts Festival, Margaret praised its organiser Ana Bella Alvarez who ran the festival for 13 years. “It is sad and a big loss, and something we’ll look to plug that gap next year because Ennis does deserve at least two community festivals.”

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