Irish adaption of ‘Swan Lake’ among highlights of Clonmel Junction Festival

Music and theatre lovers well catered for with eclectic mix at popular Tipperary event

It's been performed in London and Dublin and hailed as a work of terrible beauty but now choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan's reworking of Swan Lake or Loch na hEala is about to be performed in Tipperary where it forms one of the main attractions of the Clonmel Junction Festival.

According to the Guardian critic Judith Macrell, there are no obvious traces of the original ballet in Loch na hEala with Tchaikovsy's score being replaced by Irish-Nordic music played live on stage by Dublin-based trio Slow Moving Clouds but it is "a work of terrible beauty and extraordinary craft".

Drawing on the Irish legend of the Children of Lir, Mr Keegan-Dolan and his company, Teac Damhsa, incorporate a story of clerical sexual abuse as well as political and police corruption into the work which features well-known actor Mikel Murfi in a central role.

But while Loch na hEala may well be the highlight of the week-long festival now in its 17th year, it's by no means the only attraction in a programme which the organisers believe is sufficiently eclectic and exciting to attract thousands to the south Tipperary town.


Black sheep

According to artist director Mary Hickson, among the other attractions at this year's festival, which has as its theme Black Sheep, is a show from Italian outfit Compagnia TPO, who bring their family production, Kindur – The Adventurous Life of Icelandic Sheep to Clonmel.

“Telling the story of the sheep through three dancers who involve the audience and encourage them to become part of the flock, it promises to be a truly immersive show for both children and family,” said Ms Hickson.

Music fans are well catered for with an eclectic mix from British outfit This is the Kit, traditional musicians Martin Hayes and David Power, Dublin trad/folk outfit Lankum, cellist Kate Ellis and Irish outfit Crash Ensemble who team up with American folk singer Sam Amidon.

Clonmel Junction Festival is also presenting The Cave, a series of three intimate music events at Mitchelstown Cave featuring American musician Peter Broderick, Irish Sierra Leonean singer Loah, Manchester's Jesca Hoop and Irish artists Rosie Carney, Marc O'Reilly and Brigid Mae Power.

Among the more unusual features of the festival will be a 12ft steel Gramaphone audio visual sculpture by Donncha Cahill which audiences will be able to interact with at various locations while Joanne Condon will create a series of outdoor installations around the town entitled Balloon Herd.

Meanwhile, actress and star of TV3 drama Roseanna Purcell from just up the road in Littleton will stage and star in her play, Test Copy, which tells the story of adolescent Louise Fennessy who longs to belong to a group and be accepted by her peers but with dramatic consequences.

For further information on this year's Clonmel Junction Festival which runs from July 3rd to July 9th, visit

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times