Ruan’s Shannon family have been announced as this year’s winner of the MÓRglór award.
Sharon, Garry, Majella and Mary Shannon are to follow in the footsteps of Eoin O’Neill, Frank Custy, Geraldine Cotter, the late Chris Droney and Mary MacNamara by accepting the prestigious accolade.
This annual award is named after Muiris Ó Rocháin, a cultural ambassador and Clare visionary. It is curated by glór in partnership with Dr Tim Collins as producer of the event, and who coordinated the original concert in 2013.
Noted as outstanding ambassadors for the traditional arts, the Shannon family have also inspired musicians nationally and internationally. They have dedicated the award to their parents, Mary and IJ.
They were all involved on the farm as they grew up and consequently still have a love of the outdoors life. Their early exposure to music was mainly through the singing of their parents Mary and IJ and later through records and tapes of Trad, Country, and Pop music. They started in the late 70s on tin whistles at the Teach Ceoil in Corofin under the tutelage of musicians such as Tom Barrett, John Byrt, Tony Linnane and Gus Tierney.
As time went on, they soaked up the music of bands such as The Mellow Men, The Prodigal Sons and The Grogans in the local lounge bars in the company of their parents.
They spent years competing at the Fleadhanna Ceoil, but the music was truly embedded only when it became their social outlet through attending Friday night sessions driven by Frank Custy in Toonagh Hall. Playing for dance became second nature with Frank’s Toonagh Céilí Band and soon, they were also recording and touring abroad with Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin’s Dísirt Tóla.
Since then, they have all travelled independent avenues at home and abroad as performers and as teachers, with Sharon in particular achieving exceptional international recognition as a collaborator and crossover performer.
A banjo player, Mary is well-known for her work with her band ‘The Bumblebees’ and was also a member of ‘The Woodchoppers’ with the Kane sisters, Sharon, Jim Murray, and Tony Molloy. A multi-instrumentalist and composer, she played in Glastonbury, Japan, Australia, US, and Canada and featured in various combinations of Sharon’s bands. She is a regular at many sessions around North Clare.
On fiddle, Majella toured with Dísirt Tóla in the 80s and featured on numerous recordings. She is a respected fiddle teacher and is a successful coach of bands and groups for fleádh competitions with Garry. Her daughter Caoilinn recently presented the Heartlands series for TG4 with Sharon.
The eldest of the family, Garry is an innovative fluteplayer. Over the years, he has travelled and featured on several albums with groups and as a soloist. He is especially associated with the Kilfenora Céilí Band. Garry also teaches flute and runs Meitheal, a residential summer school for high-performance young musicians.
On Friday November 6th, the people of Clare will come together to acknowledge a depth of gratitude to The Shannon family for their enormous contribution to traditional Irish music with a concert in glór featuring the family, friends, and extended family, along with some of the most renowned traditional musicians and singers in the county and the country. Tickets for this concert are now available from glor.ie and on 065 6843103.