FROM a busking competition to the work of the Clare Art Scene and Clare’s Hollywood connection, there’s something for everybody at this year’s Ennis Fringe Festival as Ronan Judge discovers.

THIS is the fifth year of the Ennis Fringe Festival which takes place at venues around the town from September 17-20.
A bumper programme makes it the biggest edition of the festival yet. Featuring almost 20 different events, the festival will again showcase the creative energies and sprit of the Clare arts scene.
The theme of this year’s festival is Dark Matter, as festival organiser David O’Rourke explains, “Now in its fifth year the Fringe, as it is becoming known, continues to be predominantly an art festival featuring the best of local artists. While it has varied hugely over the years in terms of mood, form and structure, it remains committed to its founding premise, which is to bring art in all its forms to the general public in a direct manner by the use of alternative venues rather than more traditional spaces.”
He continued, “This year we have chosen Dark Matter as a theme, a hypothetical type of matter that cannot be observed but accounts for most of the matter in the universe. The participating artists have not been limited by this singular definition of dark matter but have interpreted it freely.
While we mostly focus on Clare based artists we are delighted this year to introduce the work of invited artists John Collins and Bam into the mix. In a subliminal way over the course of four days we are transforming the town into a walk-in gallery of sorts.”
The festival has also been backed by local authorities and local businesses.
“It remains a community based venture and we wish to acknowledge the support of the participating businesses as well as the artists who give of their energy so freely especially the Rowan Tree Cafe Bar and Hostel, the Food Emporium and Clare County Council,” David said.
There are a number of exhibitions and performances from local and international musicians. There will also be a special screening of the 1969 Disney film, ‘Guns In The Heather’. Starring a young Kurt Russell, the film was primarily shot on location in Kilmurry, Sixmilebridge, Ennis and surrounding areas, with additional scenes shot at Pinewood Studios near London, England.
A special screening of the film will take place in the Copper Jug pub in Lifford at 5pm on Sunday, September 20.
The festival opens at Anne Leavey’s gallery on Thursday with an exhibition of work by the Clare Art Collective featuring John Collins and Anne Leavey.
Most recently John Collins ended the University of Limerick’s ‘City of Culture 2014’ calendar at the renowned ‘Bourn Vincent Gallery’ with his solo exhibition ‘Pigtown’ and now a selection of works from that show are being exhibited at Ennis Fringe 2015.
The festival also takes in Culture Night which will be celebrated on Friday night.
Music features heavily on the programme and fans of poetry and delta blues should get down to the Record Break Cáfe over the weekend.
On Culture Night, Record Break will host poet Patrick Stack and AU McCoy and The Fake McCoys who bring foot stomping ‘Shannon’ delta blues and lonesome mountain country songs to bring a stomp to your foot and a tear to your eye. Instruments include Resonator Guitar, Harmonica, Fiddle, WashBoard, Double Bass and Vocals. Trad Blues and arrangements of songs by Leadbelly, Mississippi Sheikhs, Johnny Cash, Chris Smither and Scot H Biram.
On Saturday at around noon Texas Delta Blues Duo, Dan Phleps and Matthew Fox and Belfast DJ, Phil Gaston; will perform outdoors at the Record Break Cafe, until 3 pm.
Dan Phleps CD releases have met with critical acclaim in US and British blues magazines such as Blues Revue and Blues and Rhythm magazines. Matthew Fox is a guitarist and songwriter whose Georgia and Texas roots run deep. He has steeped himself in a variety of styles from acoustic and bottleneck blues to swing and his acclaimed originals are rooted in the great Texas story-song tradition.
Meanwhile, some of the county’s up and coming musical talent get to strut their stuff at a busking competition in the Chapel Lane indoor market (Saturday 3-5pm)

It remains a community based venture and we wish to acknowledge the support of the participating businesses as well as the artists who give of their energy so freely especially the Rowan Tree Cafe Bar and Hostel, the Food Emporium and Clare County Council.”

Local historian and writer, Ollie Byrne will hold a book signing at the Ennis Bookshop from 4-5pm while for something completely different, the Temple Gate Hotel will host a laughter yoga session on Saturday from 1-2pm.
The festival closes out on Sunday with performances from two talented musicians at the Copper Jug.
Astrid Adler, on the 15th century Irish Harp strung with brass and silver, will play her own compositions and Irish tunes she arranged and wrote down in her tutor book: ‘Play the Companions’. Adler is one of only five people in Ireland who perform on this instrument.
Conor Keane is considered one of the leading exponents of the diatonic accordion.
He began playing music at the age of seven and was later chosen to be a member of the professional touring bands Arcady and Four Men and a Dog. He spent two years in France collaborating and performing with Breton singing legend Gilles Servat. The show will feature songs by Peter Mc Donnell from the Reverance.

Caption: Record Break Café’s Sinead Ní Shioda. Record Break will host Patrick Stack and AU McCoy and The Fake McCoys on Culture Night, September 18.

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