Ennis Creative Quarter Presents Halloween.
The objective of the first Halloween Festival for Ennis, staged on Saturday October 28th, was to establish a festival and parade framework, that can be built upon in the years to come. With attendance figures surpassing all expectations, the organisers – Ennis Creative Quarter – certainly succeeded!
The committee has proven beyond doubt that there is a huge appetite for a fun family event at Halloween in Ennis. By focussing on the Creative Quarter, representing the businesses from Parnell Street, Wood Quay, Salthouse Lane, Cabey’s Lane, Chapel Lane and surrounds, we were able to build a real buzz on the streets on Saturday. The organising committee, drawn primarily from business owners in the designated areas, not only worked hard and opened their wallets to make this a success, they also brought a fabulous fun factor to the day, said Margaret O’Brien, Co-Chair and Festival and Events Coordinator for Ennis.
Noreen Twomey Walsh, of Twomey Walsh Household Linens and Secretary of the organising committee said she had a smile on her face all day long! This was a great opportunity to showcase Parnell Street and its surrounding laneways and bow ways and the Wood Quay area. There are some marvellous businesses in this part of town. There is also great heart and generosity. We knew we were starting small, but for those who visited Parnell Street on Saturday for a stroll to soak up the atmosphere, to attend daytime events with their children, or the parade later on, they will know what I mean when I say the future potential for this festival is huge.
Darragh McAllister, Co-Chair, said, This is such a wonderfully historic part of town, sometimes we take it for granted, but it’s important that this festival shone a light on the area. We need to appreciate what we have in Ennis. He added, History aside, many young creative businesses have set up in this part of town in recent years and our hope is that events such as these will highlight that fact, and will encourage more creative businesses to consider the Parnell Street area as a location.
The events throughout the festival programme were very well attended. Storytelling in conjunction with Clare Youth Services took place in Chapel Lane Market, Little Ones and O’Mahony’s. Ollie Gleeson modified his successful walking tour of Ennis to create a bespoke, child friendly walking tour of Parnell Street and laneways and bow ways with a seasonal ghostly twist. This was a magical tour, full of fun, facts and wonder and the feedback from excited children and their parents was very enthusiastic and positive
Artist Helen Lowe ran a fully-booked mask making class in Chapel Lane Market, while Clare Youth Services hosted Halloween Games at the Hub.
Clare Youth Theatre added drama to the event, with some dark live sketches on the Street.
After 6pm,, it was all about the parade. For the first time in their long history Ennis Brass band rested their uniforms and instead marched in full Halloween regalia, replete with masks or face paint.
Participating in the parade, which was led out by Ennis Brass Band and towering stilt walker The Rev Sinclair, were; Michelle Naughtons Dance Masters from Sixmilebridge, Ennis Polish Folk Dancers, Zumba and Kazumba dancers, Creative Quarter traders (and dressed up dogs!), a group of hairdressers sporting dramatic hair styles (and costumes) with creative direction by Bridget Haren, and a large and impressive contingent from Sparks Dance Studio Ennis.
The organisers were overwhelmed by the support on the streets.
Many commented that Parnell Street was as crowded as any day during Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann
With Councillors dropping in during the daytime events and attending the parade, in addition to senior personnel from Clare County Council, they could see first-hand the possibilities for this community based festival to grow, to become a serious player in the annual calendar of festivals and events for Ennis.
The Committee members of Ennis Creative Quarter Presents Halloween thank all those who turned out to support the daytime events for children, the family parade and the night time music events for adults.
They thanked their individual trader sponsors on Parnell Street, Clare County Council for supplying Festoon Lighting and Ennis Municipal District Councillors for a grant of €500 towards running costs. They also paid special tribute to the wonderful volunteer stewards, led by Bernie Carey of Clare Volunteers. Their unflappable expertise and their experience as stewards at the recent Fleadh in Ennis, stood them in good stead and proved that as a group they are a true legacy of the Fleadh, for the town said Margaret O’Brien.