For the second year in succession, the Shannon Festival has been a remarkable success attracting thousands of local people and visitors for a full and varied programme of events suitable for all the family.

The Royal Bhangra Dance Group provided a spectacularly colourful  performance

The Royal Bhangra Dance Group provided a spectacularly colourful

There was some anxiety about the weather leading into the event however Friday and Saturday remained mainly dry and the showers that arrived on Sunday failed to dampen the enthusiasm of those in attendance.

This year, event organisers kept a focus on their overall aim of developing The Venue, a multi-functional arts and cultural centre for the enjoyment of the people of Shannon and surrounding areas.

At the opening ceremony, Kevin Thompstone introduced Mayor of Clare, Cllr Tom McNamara, Ei Electronics CEO Mick Guinee and Clare deputy Pat Breen, Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market & Data Protection. Mr Thompstone paid tribute to local businesses and to Clare County Council for their financial support.

Cllr Tom McNamara commented, “Events like this demonstrate a pride of place amongst everyone living in the community which is why Clare County Council is delighted to have been able to make a financial contribution to this particular festival. The wide-ranging events also showcase the creative, civic and community potential that exists in this town. This, I am confident, will be further enhanced when The Shannon Venue is eventually delivered.”

Mick Guinee, CEO of Ei Electronics, the main sponsor of the Shannon Festival said his company believes in supporting community activities and is very much involved in sponsoring charities, schools, sporting organisations, cultural and arts activities.

One September celebrated their 30th anniversary

One September celebrated their 30th anniversary

He added, “When Kevin, Eoin (Hoctor) and Derek (Barrett) first mooted the idea of a multi-purpose community centre, The Venue, we had no hesitation in coming on board with significant capital. For its size and probably for the county, Shannon needs and deserves a multi-purpose civic and amenities centre. Kevin and the guys have brought the concept so far and we are behind them all the way.”

In his speech, Minister Breen said he was particularly delighted to be invited to officially open the Shannon Festival. He added, “I also want to be associated with the fantastic project that Kevin and Derek have put together, the Shannon Venue. I got involved with this project when Cllr John Crowe was chairman of the Municipal District and he asked me to get involved.

“That kind of spirit will do one thing, it will ensure that the dream will become a reality in the coming years, I believe it will put a heart into Shannon to complement the strong spirit that is here in this area. When The Venue is built, this will be the peoples’ Venue, putting culture and community at the centre of local life and it will make Shannon a lovely place, not just to work in but to live in as well.”

Minister Breen confirmed that he raised the need for Government financial support of the Shannon Venue with the Minister for Finance and Public Procurement, Paschal Donohoe, and with his Finance predecessor Minister Michael Noonan, who was very receptive to the idea. He added, “We will work to ensure that this becomes a reality.”

The Royal Bhangra Dance Group then provided one of the most colourful spectacles of the festival, performing a traditional Indian dance for Minister Breen, elected representatives and all present. They were followed by Sean Nós dancer Sean Hanafin. Adam Moloney is quickly becoming a local star, at the end of his set, Adam was joined on stage by Derek Barrett who encouraged everyone to sing Happy Birthday for this very talented kid who was just 15 on the day. Bringing the first evening to a raucous conclusion was rock band The Big Generator including local Shannon musicians DJ O’Sullivan and Emmet Harrigan.

Bringing the first evening to a raucous conclusion was rock band The Big Generator including local Shannon musicians DJ O’Sullivan and Emmet Harrigan.

Crowd favourite, Paddy Casey, belting out his hits at the last night of the festival

Crowd favourite, Paddy Casey, belting out his hits at the last night of the festival

Festival highlights on Saturday included the craft and food market and an extensive exhibition by the Defence Forces, with friendly young soldiers allowing people to get their hands on a range of sophisticated modern weaponry. On Saturday evening One September celebrated their 30th anniversary with past and present members of this popular local band.

Sunday began with Mass celebrated by Fr Tom Ryan and a Christian church service. This was followed by the much-anticipated Mark de Lisser choral workshop which was clearly enjoyed by members of Shannon Musical Society. A writer’s workshop was hosted by Shannon native Rachael English, the well-known author and journalist who presents RTE Radio’s Morning Ireland daily news programme. Rachel spoke about her modest upbringing in Shannon and had encouraging words for those with writing ambitions in attendance.

James Sexton kept the craic going with his Hang Tough competition as the rain continued to pour down. Contestants had to hang off a bar as the clock ticked away. In the early evening, Sixmilebridge Folk Club and friends played while members of the St Senan’s Set Dancing Club joined in the festivities.

Shannon Festival reached a crescendo on Sunday night with the appearance of Mundy and the ever popular Paddy Casey. Both artists came together for a grand finale and were joined on stage by members of the Shannon Gospel Choir.

Once again this terrific community event lived up to all expectations. The organising committee, which included Kevin Thompstone, Derek Barrett and Eoin Hoctor, deserve every plaudit. All three were there for most of the events, indeed  Derek and his wife Karen and Kevin and his wife Ann were a constant presence over the weekend.

Credit must also go to SkyCourt and manager Pat Kelly for making their facilities available. There was a real buzz in the centre during the festival hopefully, it will lift peoples’ spirits for some time to come.

Thanks must also go to a small army of volunteers who gave their time freely in order to ensure the event would be another resounding success. No doubt the Shannon community is very grateful to the Garda, fire service, musicians, entertainers, stall holders and everyone else who helped make this a truly memorable event.

Some of the many talented local people who took part this year (l-r) DJ O’Sullivan,
Rachel English and Adam Moloney