Clonmel promises to be a blaze of colour and music from now until the end of the weekend, as Festival Cluain Meala continues with the Busking Festival and the Medieval Walled Towns Festival.
Now in its fifth year, the busking festival is one of the most diverse music festivals in the country and this year is no different with a line-up that includes Cornerboy, Paddy O’Brien, Crow Black Chicken, Johnny Fean, Rob Strong, John Spillane, JigJam and Gina Dale Hale and The Champions, with all gigs day and night free of charge.
“Music-wise I think it’s the best festival we’ve had”, says one of the organisers Eelco Beckers. “People mightn’t recognise all the acts but once they go and see these bands I think they’ll be impressed. Hannah Rickard and The Relatives sold out London’s Royal Albert Hall this year while Marc O’Reilly is signed to the same label as Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift”.
Other hardy annuals including Loudest Whisper, who perform in Bernie Macs, The Emigrant’s Rest, Old Bridge on Saturday night and Liam Daly’s on Sunday night, are also returning.
The festival was Eelco Beckers’ brainchild, intended both as a sustainable festival for Clonmel and as a fundraiser for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin where his son Josh, now a healthy 6 year-old, was treated as a baby.
Last year the event raised €20,000 for the children’s hospital and once again this year every cent collected throughout the weekend will be donated to Our Lady’s.
The finale, from 12.30pm to 5pm on Sunday, will be a Family Fun Day at the Denis Burke Park that will feature performances by Banna Chlauin Meala as well as Cornerboy, The Waheys and The Pavement Kings. Other attractions will include wrestling, bouncy castles, a vintage car display and food stalls.
An Austrian Male Voice Choir, the Alpine Roses Choir, will add an international flavour to the weekend when they perform at Old St. Mary’s Church at 8pm on Sunday night. A children’s ukulele workshop at the County Museum (tickets €10) and a songwriting workshop with John Spillane, upstairs in The Coachman from 7-9pm (tickets €20), will both be held on Saturday. There will be live music Under The Arches of the Main Guard on Friday and Saturday while junior busking will take place at Market Place on Saturday afternoon. On this Thursday night an “Oscars” night for children who produced an animated film will be held at Ryan Power Motors.
Meanwhile, the highlight of the Medieval Walled Towns Festival will be the Medieval Pop Up Village between 12 noon and 6pm at the Gordon Place car park on Saturday. There’s free admission to the village where you can sample the spices, music, dancing, crafts and street performers within a medieval village.
The Medieval Inn Trail, a costumed tour of local inns with medieval entertainment around the town, takes place on Friday night. More information is available from the Arts Centre in Nelson Street.