The 15th Clonmel Junction Festival finished in warm sunny style on Sunday with the much-loved Garden Party in the plush gardens of Raheen House Hotel.
After ten days of music, theatre, visual arts and street performance, it was fitting that on the final day The Wobbly Circus had the kids mesmerised for one final time with juggling and wire-walking while Moroccan band Kasba had the all-ages crowd dancing enthusiastically in joyous unison.
For ten days every year, Junction Festival brings to town the best of Irish and international music, theatre and the arts.
There were many music highlights this year, including the gypsy jazz trio I Saw Stars in the Donoughmore Club. They played a swinging mix of gypsy jazz classics from the Django Reinhardt repertoire while changing track every now and again with fresh versions of classics like Mack The Knife. We can expect to hear a lot more from I Saw Stars.
The gorgeous Mariel Martinez from Argentina looked and sounded like tango royalty on the stage of Raheen House. The combination of voice, guitar, piano and accordion captivated a full house who were treated to multiple encores.
Clonmel’s own Edel Meade celebrated the musical legacy of Billie Holiday with a concert in the quaint setting of Marlfield Church. Meade, now an established jazz singer in Dublin, talked between songs about Holiday’s tragic life and her formative years growing up in Clonmel.
The festival talks about theatre in uncomplicated terms as just ‘great story-telling’ and there was that in no small measure. The Man In The Woman’s Shoes has already captured the hearts of audiences around the country and it’s easy to see why as Mikel Murfi delivered a comic masterclass in his portrayal of shoemaker Pat Farnon to a packed White Memorial Theatre on the penultimate night of the festival.
Charolais, written and performed by Noni Stapleton, sold out four shows in Moran’s and matched The Man In The Woman’s Shoes for hilarity. Stapleton’s portrayal of a Charolais cow, complete with French accent, will live long in the memory. Charolais is a must-see, particularly for anyone with a farming background.
The family/children’s show Overture returned to the festival for a second year, such was the glowing response to the 2014 festival performance. The children were awestruck at the size and shape of the bubbles, while the clever use of light lent a sense of magic to what was a carnival of bubbles.
The Forever Young project, made with Clonmel teenagers and an Australian theatre company, received great feedback from participants. They also spoke eloquently on the John Murray radio about taking the Forever Young project to the prestigious Edinburgh Festival in August.
Belonging(s), a visual arts exhibition co-curated by Clonmel teenagers, collected items and stories from Clonmel locals and presented these stories in a variety of ways at NEST exhibition space on Mitchel St. Those involved in the project will present the project to an international audience in Orleans, France, later in the year.
Book-lovers and armchair adventurers turned out in huge numbers for author Dervla Murphy’s ‘In Conversation’ event. Large numbers queued patiently at the end as Murphy signed books and chatted briefly with fans.
Clonmel Junction Festival has something for all tastes and its programme of events reads like a gourmet platter. Just like the best food, trying something new at the festival, brings great satisfaction.