A large crowd flocked to Newmarket on Fergus last weekend for the fourth annual Village Carnival. An array of events took place over the course of the festival and The Clare Herald’s Páraic Mc Mahon was backstage at the open air concert speaking to the various acts including Hermitage Green, the Shannon Gospel Choir, Little Tents and Paddy Casey.
The honour of opening the open air concert was bestowed upon, Little Tents, a young, enthusiastic indie rock band from Limerick. Each year the organisers of the Village Carnival give young aspiring music groups the opportunity to be the opening act and Little Tents were given the honour for 2014 and they didn’t disappoint.
Representing Little Tents in Newmarket on Fergus were; Laura Duff, Aoife Donnellan, Aisling O Connor and Conor Wallace. Drummer with the band, Conor Wallace was thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful event, “There’s great weather, a great atmosphere it was just amazing, it was great in general and a good experience to be up there in front of a couple of hundred people”. Guitarist with Little Tents, Aoife Donnellan explained how important this gig was for them “This is our biggest gig yet in front of a live set of people” and “we loved it”. Little Tents only formed in June 2014 as part of the Music Generation which is Ireland’s National Music Education Programme and from there, they got the won a competition which saw them perform live in front of The Edge of U2 fame. Little Tents are “hopeful to get a couple of gigs in Limerick around pubs and the Java Youth Centre” following the Village Carnival as they aim to gain more experience with Aisling O Connor adding that “the goal is to always perform in front of a live audience”.
All members of the band are still in secondary school and as long as they all stick together, the future will be bright for Little Tents and we will be hearing more about them in the future.
Returning for their second year in a row at the Village Carnival were the Shannon Gospel Choir. Derek Barrett, manager and co-founder of the Shannon Gospel Choir was delighted to be part of the Village Carnival yet again “It’s great fun because it’s local enough to us, we’ve done lots of things around but sometimes you have to travel a bit of a distance so it’s great to just be in the road”. “There’s a great community spirit in the town aswell and we always get good feedback”.
The Shannon Gospel Choir was founded in 2009 by Karen and Derek Barrett who were inspired by the Dublin Gospel Choir and since its inception one of the major highlights for Derek and the entire group was performing in Croke Park on All Ireland Final day 2013 when Clare overcame Cork to claim a historic fourth All Ireland title. “That’s once in a lifetime to play in Croke Park on All Ireland Final Day that Clare play and then Clare win”. Barrett can still vividly recall the buzz and excitement of the entire group on the day, “we were in the tunnel as they were coming off and as we were coming off they were coming out, the adrenaline there was unreal”.
“After we had sung at half time we were brought around to a quadrant area and it was mostly to ourselves and the excitement was there was brilliant, it was electric”. Another notable performance for the Shannon Gospel Choir was this June in Limerick where they performed as part of the Special Olympics “one of the best things we’ve done” and “everybody was there because they wanted to be there”. Derek Barrett also highlighted the benefit of singing in groups for an individual’s mental health, “scientific and medical reports say that singing in groups is good for mental health and I’d agree with that”.
“The thing is even at rehearsals, it’s a cliché but you feel better after it. As long as you’re singing with people in good harmonies, it’s a very positive vibe at the end of every rehearsal. No matter how bad you feel coming into rehearsals you come out of it feeling good and that’s the whole thing. You’d hope people who listen to it, feel the same”. Barrett has been overwhelmed with how fortunate the Shannon Gospel Choir have been in their short history and is hopeful this will continue “it’s been a great ride, hopefully it’ll continue you’d keep saying it can’t get any better but something comes up that brings it on again”. Since their inception in 2009, the Shannon Gospel Choir have toured all over the country doing all of County Clare proud and let’s hope this will continue for years to come.
One of the surprise acts on the night was headline act of 2013, Paddy Casey. It shows the type of man that Paddy is as he was in Galway during the day and got in touch with the Shannon Gospel Choir and was more than happy to perform with them in front of the Newmarket on Fergus following.
Dublin born singer/songwriter, Casey admits that he enjoys events like the Village Carnival in Newmarket on Fergus “there’s something magic about them, they (the crowd) definitely get into the spirit of it because it’s their thing. They know why it’s there and they know who’s involved”. When speaking about his latest single with Kim Hayden, Casey outlined how difficult it is to get plays on the radio. “It’s going well. For the first few weeks it was getting a good bunch of plays but I think it’s hard to get plays in Ireland. Maybe if people request it the radio might feel pushed to play it but it’s the same for everyone so I can’t complain”.
When asked what he thinks of his chart hit, ‘Saints and Sinners’, Paddy Casey said “To me it’s weird you don’t really go through the hating the song phase or become fed up with it because everytime you play it in a gig it lifts the gig. It’s brilliant I’m glad I have it. I liked the song when I wrote it and I still like it today”. “When we write them I think they mean something but after you’ve written them, they become something else, they become what they become live”. Casey confessed that he didn’t know why ‘Saints and Sinners’ was so successful and feels he wouldn’t have been as fortunate in his career only for the chart hit. “I think I had a fluke with Saints and Sinners, I don’t know why, if it hadn’t have been for that song I don’t think I’d have done so well”.
“I don’t know why the song did so well but it did and I think that definitely was part of it”. “I don’t know what it sparked in people’s imaginations whatever it did mean that’s the reason I did so well”. Paddy Casey was delighted to be back in Newmarket on Fergus for the Village Carnival as he truly enjoyed headlining the festival in 2013 “I had a really good time here last year. It rained a bit but it didn’t matter”. “It was brilliant I really enjoyed it, there was a great atmosphere”. Without being the headline act this time round, Paddy Casey still managed to lift the crowd and no doubt they would be ecstatic if he made an appearance at the Village Carnival again in 2015.
Since the revival of the Village Carnival in 2011, the headline acts have been Republic of Loose, Aslan and Paddy Casey with all leaving a lasting impression on the crowds that have flocked to Newmarket on Fergus for the festival. This year, Hermitage Green got the privilege of headlining the Village Carnival and they didn’t disappoint. The band comprises of Darragh Graham, Darragh Griffin, Dan Murphy, Barry Murphy and Dermot Sheedy from Darragh, Co Clare. At first the band met as part of spontaneous jam sessions and they have now developed into one of Ireland’s most exciting and popular bands.
The Murphy brothers’ grandfather is from Newmarket on Fergus and that’s one of the main reasons why they were so excited to headline the Village Carnival, Darragh Graham who plays the banjo and djembe for the band stated that it meant a lot to the two lads, “It’s brilliant for us, we have the two boys (Dan and Barry Murphy) their grandfather is from Newmarket, so for them they’re delighted to be playing in a town where their roots come from”. Darragh native, Dermot Sheedy was delighted to be playing in his home county as part of the three day long festival “it’s always good to play in Clare”. Since their formation in July 2010, Hermitage Green have achieved a lot, their debut EP ‘The Gathering’ went straight to number one in the iTunes chart, while they have toured in countries all over the world including France, the Middle East, South Africa, the United States, the UK and Australia where they even got the opportunity to perform in Sydney Harbour on Australia Day. Darragh Graham recalled some of highlights since Hermitage Green’s inception “some of the trips that have come up it’s not really a moment to be able to places like Vancouver and Sydney, just having those trips and the experience has been brilliant”.
For Sheedy the highlight was the Electric Picnic last year when they played the Electric Arena and got a great reaction and a response which blew them away. Next in the pipeline for Hermitage Green is to record for their next album as Dermot Sheedy explains “we’re recording in November and then releasing the album in Spring 2015, hopefully we’ll have a busy year next year hopefully touring in Australia and the States and keep the ball rolling”.
The lads credited their role on Second Captains Live along with Darragh Graham’s former athletics career where he represented Ireland in 100 and 200m sprints and holds a number of Irish titles, aswell as Barry Murphy’s career as a professional rugby player for Munster from 2001-2011, “I think that definitely helped at the start, it was really when the cover videos went viral” Sheedy added. Darragh Graham accurately pointed out the importance of music to strengthen their popularity “it’s been a help but it would all fall apart if we didn’t have the music there to back it up”. They certainly have the music to back it up as anyone present in Newmarket on Fergus on Saturday night can testify to. Hermitage Green are one of Ireland’s most popular bands for a reason and we can expect bigger and better things from them in the near future.
The Clare Herald would like to thank the event co-ordinators; Siobhan O Driscoll, Orla Meehan, Vivien Grogan and Tracey Daly for their assistance on the night. A big credit is due to Obair Newmarket on Fergus and Pat Cronin for helping to fund and organise this excellent event. We’re looking forward to the 2015 Village Carnival already as anticipation builds to see who will be the headline act.