Medley of music, art, theatre at Clifden Arts Festival

Special tribute to be paid to late poet Dennis O’Driscoll

Plate-spinners, poets and playwrights will participate in this year's Clifden Community Arts Festival, which published its programme in Connemara yesterday.

French-Creole, traditional, rock and classical music, including a performance of Handel's Messiah, and a public interview with Riverdance composer, music producer and arranger Bill Whelan, are among the festival's highlights over ten days from September 19th to 29th.

Singer Mary Coughlan, Slovenian clarinettist Jose Kotar, button accordion master Mairtín O'Connor, fiddle player Zoe Conway and guitar and bouzoki player Donal Lunny have been booked, while so-called "Gyp-hop kings" The Latchikos will perform with Aindrias de Staic.

Sharon Shannon, Declan Sinnott, the Callino Quartet with Tom Dunn, Cherish the Ladies and Kaleidoscope Camino will play, and there will be comedy with Kevin McAleer.


The visual art dimension, involving the seventh annual Clifden arts trail, will include a photographic portrayal of Omey island’s only permanent resident, former stuntman Pascal Whelan by Kevin Griffin.

John Coll, Ger Sweeney, Joe Boske, Padraic Reaney, Jay Murphy, Rosie McGurran, Dorothy Cross and Mo Irwin are among many participating artists.

As a tribute to the late Dennis O'Driscoll, his writing will be recalled by a number of poets, with readings by Michael Longley, Mary O'Malley, Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Michael Coady, Tony Curtis, Enda Wyley and Peter Sirr among others.

Poet, publisher and novelist Dermot Bolger and internationally renowned playwright, Bernard Farrell, will combine for an evening together, while Jacob Award winning RTE broadcaster Mike Murphy will conduct a public interview with Bill Whelan.

The Guinness Choir will perform 'Handels' Messiah, and British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy will read with musician and actor John Sampson.

Author and journalist Kevin Myers will give a lecture on "Commemorations: Ireland's Fatal Addictions", and Fishamble:The New Theatre Company will stage one-man plays Silent and Forgotten, performed by dramatist Pat Kinevane.

Former Fianna Fáil TD Mary O'Rourke will read from her memoir, and historian Prof Diarmuid Ferriter will deliver the annual John Moriarty memorial lecture.

Dance, music, fire and costume are promised on September 28th for the festival’s “finale parade” led by LuXe processional and landscape theatre company and with Rob Strong and Band. Fidget Feet will perform sections of their show staged at the Fleadh Cheoil in Derry during the parade.

A full programme of events and tickets can be found online at

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times