Ireland’s Longest Running Arts Festival Returns

By August 16, 2021No Comments
The 44th Clifden Arts Festival 2021 – September 15-23, 2021
“A unique and outstanding experience… a ‘meitheal’ between artists and audience forged on a profound respect for community and belonging”
President Michael D Higgins
Resilience and community spirit remain the order of the day as Clifden Arts Festival keeps the fires lit for its 44th gathering of music, stories, and illumination.
Having held fast as a beacon in 2020, the longest running community arts festival in the country will once again hoist a flag for the creative spirit this September. As the country emerges cautiously from Covid restrictions, Clifden Arts Festival 2021 will invoke the spirit of Seamus Heaney’s poem Keeping Going by offering wonderment and solace to audience and artist alike in these uncertain times.
As ever, the finest musicians, writers, artists and thinkers have answered the call of Brendan Flynn and his team for a diverse array of events. In accordance with HSE guidelines to ensure the safety of guests, artists and volunteers, venues across the Connemara capital will open doors and arms. Last year’s successful new digital platform returns, as will broadcast partners Connemara Community Radio, opening up the entire festival up to a wider audience.
Leading a stellar line-up of homegrown music, folk giant Luka Bloom will bring his incredible songbook to Clifden for an intimate Town Hall show. The Irish Chamber Orchestra will sweep into Connemara, as will a much-anticipated performance by a new Music Network collaboration featuring The Gloaming and Afro Celt Soundsystem star Iarla Ó Lionáird, renowned harpist Una Monaghan and cellist Kevin Murphy. Ó Lionáird’s fellow Cúil Aodha stalwart Peadar Ó Riada will accompany vocalist Seán Ó Sé in what promises to be a typically mesmeric show, while Clifden will also mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Sean Ó Riada with a discussion helmed by musician and RTÉ producer Peter Browne. 
Clifden’s long devotion to the finest Irish and international literature is unshakable. Among those providing readings and discussions online will be the great Colm Tóibín, Doireann Ní Ghríofa (whose award-winning A Ghost In The Throat was a major talking point of 2021.
Gabriel Byrne will reflect on the highs and lows of Hollywood life, while Keep Calm and Trust the Science is the name of a new show by Professor Luke O Neill who has become one of the most reassuring voices for the pandemic age. Thirty-Two Words for Field author Manchan Magan will bring his remarkable bilingual show to Clifden for an exploration of language and landscape, and legendary literary critic Declan Kiberd will explore Yeats, Joyce and the New Woman. Clifden is also delighted to welcome back RTÉ current affairs presenter David McCullagh for more searing biographical insight into Éamon de Valera.
As part of its visual arts programme, the festival will host a double-headline exhibition by father and daughter Jimmy and Hetty Lawlor. Hetty is a former Sky Portrait Artist of the Year, while Jimmy’s posters – including this year’s stunning “Aida” – have long been cornerstones of the festival.
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Repro Free: 10 year old Aida Carney Fitzpatrick from Westport with the 2021 Clifden Arts Festival poster by Jimmy Lawlor in which she features. The festival runs from the 15th to the 23rd of September 2021
Photo:Andrew Downes, Xposure