From modest beginnings as a concert and a session, the Shannonside Winter Music Festival has grown into a hectic schedule of over 80 events, featuring 10 musical genres delivered across 17 locations in Sixmilebridge and Bunratty, Co. Clare.
The 21st Festival, launched today in Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, Co Clare, will take place from Thursday, 16th to Monday 20th January and include an impressively eclectic mix of music styles to brighten the gloomiest winter.
This annual festival, which was awarded the accolade of best festival in Co Clare earlier this year, is organised by Sixmilebridge Folk Club and has become synonymous with delivering exceptional musical diversity and bringing visitors to the Co Clare villages of Sixmilebridge and Bunratty at a time of year when tourists are normally sparse on the ground.
Launching the 2020 festival schedule, which can be found online at www.wmw.ie, festival director Michael Minihan said: “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 has 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 festival said: “We are proud to once again support the Shannonside Winter Music Festival at Bunratty Castle & Folk Park. The committee have done a terrific job over the years in making this event one of the highlights of the musical year and I would like to wish them every success again in 2020.”
The line-up for January 2020 will include a mix of international, national and local artistes 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.
A one-day music trail held in Bunratty Castle and Folk Park on Saturday, 18th January, is aimed at families and giving every generation the opportunity to hear all that the festival 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 headline traditional act this time around is the Metis Ireland Saturday concert in Bunratty Castle Hotel with Cherish the Ladies, Joanie Madden’s well-loved all female ensemble featuring Kate Purcell on vocals. Bluegrass fans can look forward to the Tennessee sounds of the Midnight Run (US) led by Seth Mulder supported by newcomers Sons of Navarone from Belgium at the Shannon Springs Bluegrass Concert on the Sunday, which will be held in the GAA Hall in Sixmilebridge, Co Clare.
Back for a fourth visit to Clare are Kimber’s Men from England, probably the best sea shanty group anywhere, performing incredible four-part acapella vocals. Newcomers to the festival include Le Llamas (Switzerland), the Cajun Roosters (from all over Europe) and Wood of O – a beautiful duet compromised of Breege Phelan & Will McLellan. The Fiddle Case – the amazing four-piece trad/folk group from Doolin are also making their festival debut in Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. Lovers of rocking blues will be keen to hear DD and the Delta Boys from Donegal.
The festival always celebrates local talent, and will include acts like MEGA-Trad, who return after some amazing shows at the 20th anniversary festival in January 2019. Ger O’Donnell and Trevor Sexton will be delivering some of the best vocals and guitar 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, and sessions throughout both villages will feature the best of local and visiting talent.
The Shannonside Winter Music Festival, organised by Sixmilebridge Folk Club, is supported by the Arts Council, Fáilte Ireland, Clare County Council, Shannon Heritage, Metis Ireland, Shannon Springs Hotel, Sensori FM and local businesses.
For full details on the Shannonside Winter Music Festival 2020 schedule of events, or to book weekend tickets or tickets for the headline concerts, check out www.wmw.ie and www.facebook.com/ShannonsideWMW.