And now for something completely different. Over the years Clonmel’s Junction Festival has come up with many wonderful and novel events to enliven the town and delight the public. The finale event for this year’s festival aims to top all previous spectacles.
The Festival has engaged circus performer Christopher Bull to attempt to cross the River Suir on a high wire. This death-defying act will form the finale to a wonderful two-hour family spectacle featuring Clonmel’s multi prize-winning marching and concert band Banna Chluain Meala and the youth ensemble from Wexford street performance company Buí Bolg. The events will take place on either side of Gas House Bridge on Saturday, July 13th, starting at 7pm. This free event is made possible by generous sponsorship from Merck, Sharp and Dohme and with the support of Clonmel Borough Council, South Tipperary Civil Defence, Clonmel Swimming Pool and Clonmel Canoe Club.
The public can view the Banna Chluain Meala High Wire Spectacle on either side of Gas House Bridge. Banna will be performing on a stage area on New Quay. Bui Bolg’s performance will take place in a specially designated Family Friendly area in Denis Burke Park, where the intrepid high wire walker will finish his historic walk. The festivities will start at 7pm, with a selection of bands playing acoustic sets on both sides of the river.
This event, which will be the climax of the 10-day festival, is the result of a long planning process that began over a year ago when members of Banna Chluain Meala and Junction Festival began exploring ideas for a feature event for the festival involving the band. The idea of integrating a high wire act into the show was met with enthusiasm by both companies and so the search for a “funambulist” who was up to the challenge started.
After several months of phonecalls and internet searches Junction Festival Director David Teevan came across Christopher Bull, who is based in Bristol and has been a tight rope walker for five years. Christopher met the festival’s invitation with great enthusiasm. While he will be taking on a longer walk at the Glastonbury Festival this year - where he will walk 80 metres - the idea of crossing a river has a special magic.
Christopher explains it thus - “in the heyday of the vaudeville in the later half of the 19th Century there was a craze of high wire walking, which included many attempts at crossings of Niagara Falls. After a 116-year gap the Falls were once again crossed by high wire last year on June 15th. River crossings are special and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to do my maiden river crossing in Clonmel as part of the Junction Festival.”
Banna Chluain Meala will be performing their new season repertoire, which they are preparing for their summer tour of Italy. They are also working closely with Christopher on the finale to choreograph a thrilling finish, synchronising the walk to a stunning soundtrack and incorporating the band’s fabulous Colour Guard.
The Bui Bolg Yourth Group will perform Bones, a new show inspired by ghost tales from Mexico. For the Clomnel performance Junction Festival trainees will participate in the show as guest performers.
For more information please go to www.junctionfestival.com