*Paddy Canny & Kieran Hanrahan at the opening of glór. Photograph: Press 22

TWENTY years of glór have been marked this week, exactly two decades on from its official opening.

Since opening its doors in 2001, more than 900,000 people have attended over 8000 ticketed performances and events at glór.

Its official opening took place on Friday November 30th 2001 by former Clare TD and then Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands Síle de Valera (FF) before a specially invited audience, over 60 great Clare performers – three generations of the best players of Clare music took to the glór stage, including Tony McMahon, Paddy Canny, James Cullinan, Tony Linnane, Noel Hill, Siobhan Peoples, Martin Hayes, Josephine Marsh, Maura O’Connell, the Tulla Ceili Band, and the Kilfenora Ceili Band, to present a night of music such as has never been heard before.

With Martin Hayes and the Sawdoctors performing over the next two nights, glór in its opening weekend produced one of the best three nights of music ever staged in Clare.

Built at a cost of €8.5m, glór was the largest investment in the Arts in County Clare. With two auditoria, seating 485 and 65 people respectively. glór hosts local, national, and international music, theatre, talks, dance, comedy, and visual arts events throughout the year, and since 2015 has initiated a number of Artists in residence and Artist mentoring programmes for Clare artists.

Dr. Dave Flynn was appointed glór’s first Associate Artist, later joined by theatre makers Catherine Ireton, and Jacinta Sheerin in 2018. In 2019, glór appointed a Curator in Residence, Dr. Moran Been-noon who has curated both digital and physical exhibitions for the venue since her appointment. Most recently Clare Sands was appointed RESONATE Music Network Artist in Residence, culminating in a performance of new work with collaborators Steve Cooney and visual artist Liadain Ní Bhraonáin this November.

Some of Ireland’s most respected theatre makers have done co-productions with glór. Sweet About Me by Jacinta Sheerin premiered in glór in March 2019, and in June 2019 co-produced Cleft by Rough Magic starring Ennis’ own Simone Kirby. Most recently in 2020 glór co-produced and premiered Flights by Clarecastle playwright John O’Donovan.

The MÓRglór concert continues to be a much-loved event in glór’s calendar since the first tribute concert to Muiris Ó Rochain in 2013 . MÓRglór recipients are Corofin Traditional Music Festival (2014); Eoin O’Neill (2015); Frank Custy (2016); Geraldine Cotter (2017); Chris Droney (2018); Mary MacNamara (2019) and The Shannon Family in 2021.

Doors were closed for almost eighteen months at glór because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these challenges glór continued to work behind the scenes supporting Clare artists with successful mentoring schemes, pairing an established national mentor with an emerging Clare artist, and through the 2020 digital programmes.

Works from Mick O’Dea, Lorraine Wall, Walter Verling and Jean Regan are among those to have been exhibited in the glór gallery. The venue also works with a wealth of programming partners including Fishamble, The Abbey, Ballet Ireland, Druid Theatre Company, Music Network, Branar Teatár do Phaistí, Access Cinema, Ennis Book Club Festival, Ennis Players, The Pantaloons, Clare Youth Theatre and Clare Youth Trad Orchestra.

There are five full-time members of staff at glór with thirty part-time employees. Director, Orla Flanagan said of the milestone, “glór has so much to be proud of as we reflect on the first twenty years as a centre of excellence for the arts in Clare, above all the commitment of the many staff and the Board, the passion of the artists and the support of our partners has enabled so many memorable arts experiences and events at glór. I want to particularly pay tribute to the support of our voluntary Board and our brilliant staff team who have navigated the last two challenging years of the pandemic, and we look forward to many more artistic endeavours and exciting exhibitions and performances in our third decade”.

This year glór will celebrate its 20th birthday quietly with a small gathering of friends but looks forward to celebrating its 21st birthday in style in 2022. To celebrate the 20th milestone, glór is running a fantastic giveaway with a prize of a pair of tickets to every event in the programme in 2022.

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