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Clifden Arts Festival Welcomes Literary Heavyweights

By July 27, 2017No Comments

The 40th Clifden Arts Festival Welcomes Literary Heavyweights to Explore a New Chapter of Education, Entertainment And Enchantment

President Michael D. Higgins to Officially Launch Festival A stellar line up of literary heavyweights will be welcomed to Clifden this year as Ireland’s longest running arts festival will celebrate 40 years of continued success.

Above: Launching the Clifden Arts Festival programme of events 2017 are festival chairman Des Lally, 2FM Radio Presenter Ciara King, creative director Brendan Flynn and festival secretary Karen Mannion . The Clifden Arts Festival is Ireland’s longest running arts festival, celebrating 40 years this year. The festival features over 200 events including: arts, theatre, music, literature, exhibitions, workshops and cultural offerings. This year’s festival will be held from September 13th – 24th and launched by President Michael D. Higgins..Photograph by Aoife Herriott

Launching on September 13th, twelve days of artistic delights await young and old. A festival of national and international importance, Clifden Arts Festival has sparked creativity, shared its reputation for diversity and quality with visitors and locals and explored the possibilities of nurturing the arts amongst young people from its very origins to present day. The festival has linked with reflections on the past in order to look back on how far they have come and welcome a new chapter of charming theatre and comedy, exciting music events and incredible visual arts spectacles.

From its humble beginnings the ethos and guiding principles of the Clifden Arts Festival have remained the same. In 1977, Creative Director Dr.Brendan Flynn proposed the idea of encouraging the arts in the newly opened Clifden Community School. His passion for incorporating the arts into the school curriculum meant that this school based festival grew into the adjoining town and surrounding hinterlands to become a community orientated event. Currently, 14 schools from the area take part in various aspects of the event, including hosting poets, musicians and theatre troupes. From the very beginning the festival has attracted acclaimed artists such as Seamus Heaney, Christy Moore, not to mention President Michael D. Higgins who will officially launch the Clifden Arts Festival.

Highlights include an exceptional concert by the RTE Contempo quartet with Fionnula Moynihan and the RTE concert orchestra with gifted soloist Sir James Galway. The Irish guitar quartet will also take to the stage with mesmerising guitar playing, performed in an incredibly emotive way. With a strong female contingent this year, the long-running, Grammy-nominated, Irish-American super group Cherish the Ladies will also perform with sensational singing, dynamic dancing and infectious humour. Stockton’s Wing, who have performed with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli, took part in the film production of the John B. Keane play “The Field” and their song “Beautiful affair” was voted into the top 75 songs in the history of RTE radio. They will celebrate 40 years and perform from their vast and eclectic back catalogue of recordings.

Another huge crowd pleaser will be the Gala Concert Garda band. After the establishment of An Garda Siochana, the band gave its first public performance on Dun Laoghaire Pier on Easter Monday, 1923. Besides providing music for official Garda functions, the band also undertakes a heavy community-orientated programme performing at schools, festivals and sporting events. Hailed as one of Ireland’s most innovative and exciting bands, Kíla will also feature at the Clifden Arts Festival. They share a passion to create great music with an ability to absorb influences from across the globe. With its roots in traditional Irish, it features a strong percussive like singing and gorgeous melodies driven by a serious rhythmical undercurrent. Kíla have created their own distinctive style of world music, which has won over audiences around the world through their nine recordings to date and their spectacular live performances.


Footsbarn travelling theatre will celebrate its world premiere and revisit the Clifden Arts Festival with its internationally acclaimed production of “Bottoms Dream” based on a MidSummer Night’s Dream and Moliere to create an evening of magic and comedy. From the moment you step inside the tent, you are in a parallel universe, a place where fantastical creatures lurk, and the removal of the intrigues of the court and the lovers, allows for a special emphasis on the world of the groundlings and of the supernatural. These caustic and candid masterpieces offer an incredible palette of truculent characters and tragi-comic situations.

Literary events will see dozens of readings with some of the most celebrated authors and poets in the world, such as a reading from the Doire press with acclaimed authors Martin Malone and Karen J. McDonnell and award-winning poets Paul Durcan, Catherine Bateson and Jane Williams. Also taking to the stage will be renowned poet Bernard O’ Donoghue, whose poetry has been described as having an emotional intensity conveyed through a controlled yet impeccably natural language. Acclaimed poet, professor, editor, critic and translator Paul Muldoon has also been hailed by the Times as “the most significant Englishlanguage poet born since the Second World War.

The visual art dimension includes the ever popular Clifden Arts Trail which will illuminate the picturesque town of Clifden into an art gallery, and host a variety of group and solo exhibitions resulting in a breath-taking array of colourful and creative displays. The festival will feature both international and national artists such as renowned artists Mary Donnelly, Aaron Holton and Imelda Healy as well as many local and amateur artists, giving them welldeserved recognition and an opportunity to express themselves in a local environment. The main exhibition this year will be incredible recent works by internationally acclaimed President of the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA), Mick O’Dea. An exhibition to be savoured, his subject matter can vary from portraits, landscapes, nudes and the historic. Other highlights will in include a group exhibition entitled “Aspects of Connemara” which includes works by the legendary Michael Cullen RHA, Richard Ward, Dennis Mamalis, Bernie Dignam, Reingard Gahan, Kate Noonan, Trish Findlater and Kieran Tobin.

In recent years the Festival Finale has established itself as one of the must-see events, a joyous blend of visual arts and song, the culmination of unique collaborations and unmissable performances. The finale also features the Grand Parade, which will see acrobats, jugglers, face painters, singers, dancers, a live music and the famous fireworks extravaganza. The Clifden Arts Festivals will cast an other worldly spell on people of all ages inspired and infected by the festivals unique and innovative energy. For programme details and tickets visit


For additional information about The Clifden Arts Festival please contact Think PR – 091 79 25 26 – 087 9004145 or – Pam Finn

About Clifden Arts Festival

The longest running community arts festival in Ireland, Clifden Community Arts Week, now in its 40th year will take place from September 13th – 24th and yet again promises to have something to excite everyone in this years programme. Audiences can expect a very high quality artistic programme with a superb literary, musical and visual art content which again will have the community arts of Clifden and the surrounding hinterland as a central focus with creative writing, music, theatre, graphic design and film workshops and performances taking place in the local schools for the duration of the festival.

2023 Festival Programme