12 August 2023
The legendary Christy Moore and his vast collection of songs back for what is sure to be a truly memorable performance.
It marks the one-hundredth anniversary of the Connemara Pony Breeder’s Society.
However, recent Census statistics show that the demographic picture of Clifden raises question marks year-round vibrancy and sustainability in the town.
All that is now needed is the sunshine to paint a great picture of Clifden in mid-August. The crowds are in and the splendid Connemara ponies will be a sight to behold this week.
It is a town rich in history and the capital of Connemara.
However, recent statistics from the Census are disappointing and challenging.
The first report from the 2022 Census showed a drop of 6.2% in the town population as compared to six years ago. That followed a significant drop in Clifden’s population between 2011 and 2016.
Only three towns and villages in Connacht and Donegal with a population over 1500 had a population drop in the period from 2016 to 2022 and Clifden was the worst affected in the region.
The most recent statistics from the Census now show that Clifden has the oldest population profile in Co Galway towns.
The national average for this section is 38.8 years.
Clifden Arts Festival 2023
14 – 24 Sep, 2023, Galway Events Calendar
Connemara’s Premier Arts Festival 🎭
The longest running community arts festival in Ireland, Clifden Community Arts Week, now in its 46th year and directed by Brendan Flynn, pictured left, yet again promises to have something to excite everyone in this years programme.
Described as “Ireland’s best-kept secret” by Novel Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro, audiences can expect a very high quality artistic programme with a superb literary, musical and visual art content which again will have the community arts of Clifden and the surrounding hinterland as a central focus with creative writing, music, theatre, graphic design and film workshops and performances taking place in the local schools for the duration of the festival.
What’s on for the 2023 Clifden Arts Festival
A pentameter of poets including Michael Longley, Professor Bernard O’Donoghue, who will be appearing at the Festival this year, Ben Keating, Lucy Collins and Gerald Dawe.
The Clifden Arts Festival is thrilled to welcome the legendary Christy Moore and his vast collection of songs back for what is sure to be a truly memorable performance.
One of the most talked-about recent collaborations will feature performances by three of the best singer-songwriters, Lisa Hannigan, Paul Noonan, and Gemma Hayes.
The Raines will also perform on stage with their distinctive and unadulterated sound, singing songs with depth and melody. Meanwhile, the Irish Chamber Orchestra and West Ocean String Quartet are sure to please fans of classical music.
With the award-winning virtual reality community experience Out of the Ordinary from Irish National Opera, Clifden Arts is breaking new ground as part of the schools program.
With a program featuring the historian Diarmaid Ferriter, the broadcaster and political historian David McCullagh, and the legendary hotelier and TV personality Francis Brennan, Clifden continues its heritage of fostering robust discourse.
They are especially excited to host Prof. Bernard O’Donoghue, an Oxford professor, poet, and close friend of Seamus Heaney.
The town will welcome Rhona Byrne’s Bolthole, an immersive work that has previously graced IMMA and the Tate Modern, as part of a typically multifaceted visual arts program.
An appropriately magnificent finale of magic, light, and performance from the landscape theater company LUXE will wrap things up.
Origins of Clifden Arts Festival
Clifden Arts Week began life as a week-long celebration of the arts for the children of Clifden Community School – helping to develop artistic and social skills, and provide an outlet for self-expression and development. Over the years Arts Week at the school gave such pleasure to the greater community that an encompassing and fervent support network grew around it, allowing it to develop. Many of the dramatists, graphic designers and copywriters that work on the festival every year were once the children that attended Clifden Community School, and are now delighted to contribute their professional services.
Pictures by Bill Heaney