Shannonside Winter Music Festival to Showcase Super Sounds
From modest beginnings as a concert and a session, the Shannonside Winter Music Festival has grown into a packed programme of over 80 events, delivered across 17 locations in Sixmilebridge and Bunratty, Co. Clare.
The 21st iteration of the festival takes place from Thursday, January 16 to Monday, January 20. It includes an impressively eclectic mix of music styles – 10 different genres to be precise – the combination of which is set to brighten the dark Winter nights.
Awarded the accolade of best festival in Clare earlier this year, the annual event is organised by Sixmilebridge Folk Club. It has become synonymous with delivering exceptional musical diversity and bringing visitors to the villages of Sixmilebridge and Bunratty at a time when tourists are normally sparse on the ground.
Launching the 2020 programme, which can be found online at www.wmw.ie, festival director Michael Minihan said in a statement: “Taking the helm after the stewardship demonstrated by the festival founder, Brendan Walsh, who directed the festival through its 20th anniversary has been daunting but exciting. Great thanks must be extended to Brendan for fostering an appreciation of musical diversity and bringing such unique talent to Co Clare every year.”
“The committee have worked hard to continue this tradition and will always be indebted to Brendan for his innovative endeavours. We can promise an equally enthralling schedule of music, song and dance as has been delivered over the past two decades. We were trained well by our founder to take the festival forward. We hope it will encourage people of all ages to appreciate and take up playing a musical instrument.”
Delighted to be associated once again with the festival as a sponsor, Shannon Heritage managing director Niall O’Callaghan, in welcoming the inclusion of the one-day music trail at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park as an element of the event, said: “We are proud to once again support the Shannonside Winter Music Festival at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. The committee have done a terrific job over the years in making this event one of the highlights of the musical year. I would like to wish them every success again in 2020.”
This music trail to be held on Saturday, January 18 is aimed at families. It gives every generation the opportunity to hear all Shannonside offers in one venue on the same day. Music changes on the hour, from noon until 5pm, at four venues in the Folk Park – two levels in Bunratty Castle, a concert-style theatre venue in the Corn Barn and the delightful Tea Room.
The full line-up for the festival, meanwhile, will include a mix of international, national and local artists. They will be performing classical, traditional Irish, Cajun, blues, folk, bluegrass, Celtic funk, ragtime country blues, American jam and acapella vocals in local pubs, restaurants and concert venues throughout Sixmilebridge and Bunratty.
The headline traditional event this time around is the Metis Ireland Saturday concert in Bunratty Castle Hotel. This will feature Cherish the Ladies (pictured), Joanie Madden’s well-loved all female ensemble featuring Kate Purcell on vocals.
Meanwhile, bluegrass fans can look forward to the Tennessee sounds of the Midnight Run (US). Led by Seth Mulder and supported by newcomers Sons of Navarone from Belgium, they will be playing at the Shannon Springs Bluegrass Concert on the Sunday. This will be held in the GAA Hall in Sixmilebridge.
Back for a fourth visit to Clare are Kimber’s Men from England. Probably the best sea shanty group anywhere, they perform incredible four-part acapella vocals. Newcomers to the festival, meanwhile, include Le Llamas (Switzerland), the Cajun Roosters (from all over Europe) and Wood of O – a beautiful duo compromised of Breege Phelan and Will McLellan.
The Fiddle Case, an amazing four-piece trad/folk group from Doolin, are also making their festival debut in Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. Lovers of rocking blues, meanwhile, will be keen to hear DD and the Delta Boys from Donegal.
The festival always celebrates local talent. This year that will include acts like MEGA-Trad, who return after some amazing shows at the 20th anniversary festival in January 2019. On top of this, Ger O’Donnell and Trevor Sexton will be delivering some of the best vocal and guitar work in the country.
Mark Donnellan from the Tulla Ceili Band, and Katie O’Sullivan will be among the top-class musicians leading sessions over the weekend. The Athenry Youth Orchestra will also be back, as are the familiar faces of Gael Force 4, members of Sixmilebridge Folk Club.
Singers’ sessions in the pubs, and the set dancing in Bunratty Castle Hotel on the Sunday afternoon are always well supported. Sessions throughout both villages will feature the best of local and visiting talent.