Clommel Junction Festival unveils concerts in Mitchelstown Caves, Giant 7m Rabbits and much more

clonmel junction festival

“There are any number of colourful festivals in smaller pockets of the country that are well worth making the trip for.

Clonmel’s Junction Festival is a cracking example”

Irish Times (The Ticket)

View full festival programe here


“Are you a witch or are you a fairy, or are you the wife of Michael Cleary?”


The story of Bridget Cleary is immortalised in children’s rhyme. Folklore tells us that this Tipperary woman, the victim of dangerous superstitious beliefs, was the last witch burned In Ireland in 1895, after her husband Michael and family members suspected her of being possessed by a fairy.


Inspired by her story, the 2016 Clonmel Junction Festival embraces Bridget – the entrepreneur, the seamstress, the milliner – while at the same time celebrating Irish folklore, fairytales, witches through it’s bustling and varied 2016 festival programme.


Enjoy an international cast of music magic-makers, award-winning theatre shows, comedians, free children’s events, bespoke food events, exclusive exhibitions, dance and discussion, with more than 100 events in almost 30 venues squeezed into just 7 days, July 4 – 10. The Bulmers free music trail will run all week in locations throughout the town.


Yvonne McGuinness, Michael Fortune, Linda Buckley, Laura Sheeran and Stephanie Dufresne will present new festival commissions.




Underground, there’s a Japanese food feast(celebrating Tanabata festival 7/7) and intimate concerts in the millions-of-years-old Mitchelstown Cave.


Overground too, there’s much to savour including folk music royalty and BBC award winners The Unthanks; singers Lisa Hannigan and Lisa O’Neill; theatre in a bakery; New York Times theatre critics pick Beowulf The Blockbuster; Ghostly German pianist Hauschka; from St Petersburg the amazing swing Jazz dancer Ksenia Parkhatskaya;Gloaming fiddle virtuoso Caoimhin O’Raghailligh; Prohibition-era themed night with hot 1920’s jazz; ethereal sean nos singer Iarla O Lionaird; ‘Xposé frockadvisor’ award-winning Miss Daisy Blue Pop-Up Shop; an exhibition by world renowned artist and Tipperary resident Gottfried Helnwein; comedy with Neil Delamere, Lords of Strut, Apres Match and National treasure, performance legend and accidental activist Panti Bliss.


Bulmers free music trail will see a host of different acts coming to Clonmel from Cian Nugent to the Young Folk and Kaara to Karen Underwood – come and enjoy some Soul, Folk, Funk and trad sounds during the festival.


Evoking the house-to-house storytelling tradition of old Ireland,master storytellers Niall De Burca and Seanachai Eddie Linehanwill tell late-night fright stories involving fairies, wee men and other strange happenings.


For younger folk, there’s a ‘Sugar Plum Fairy Trail’ in an orchard, a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party featuring Alice In Wonderland characters, Lego workshops, street entertainment and from Australia, fairytale-like 7 metre high inflatable rabbits spectacularly illuminated at night.


There’s exquisite food and intrigue at the ‘Murder Mystery Night’while the pop-up ‘Eat Me Drink Me’ Cafe serves Eat Me Cakes & Drink Me potions. Award winning Japanese chef Takashi Miyazakiwill celebrate the festival of Tanabata with a fine dining experience inMitchelstown Cave.


To bring the festivities to a close CJF16 will host a Witches & Fairies Rave hosted by the Lords of Strut in a secret location for 30 mins, hard core on the dance floor – admittance only to witches or fairies – get creative!


See full programme below:


Music Programme


The festival is fertile ground for some outstanding singers and magical music-makers.


The 14th century medieval Old St Mary’s church welcomes Lisa Hannigan (July 9) promising songs new and old; English folk royaltyThe Unthanks (July 7performing their only summer Irish concert and the thrilling German classical avant garde pianist Hauschka (July 8).


Cavan’s revenge Lisa O’Neill (July 9) also graces Junction airing songs from acclaimed album of the week Pothole in the Sky.


Iarla O’Lionaird (The Gloaming) & Steve Cooney (July 6) grace Old St Mary’s Church with traditional sean nos and guitar accompaniment.


The Cave Concerts happening 200ft underground in Mitchelstown Caves (Cahir, Co Tipperary) are the unique setting for a series of concerts.


Over 3 nights (July 8-10), Gloaming member and fiddler Caoimhin O’Raghailligh shares a bill with sister-act Twin Headed Wolf (24 yr old Branwen and Julie Kavanagh). Other Cave acts include Ye Vagabonds, Talos, JFDR and New Yorkers August Wells.


Film fans can catch a late-night live music score for The Passion of Joan of Arc (‘the pinnacle of silent cinema – and perhaps of the cinema itself’) (July 8).


Also making the trip to Tipp are nine piece West Cork Ukelele Orchestra, the bumping Booka Brass Band, classic songwriting pair The Lost Brothers, Prohibition-era theme night with hot 1920’s jazz, Irish hip-hop tour de force Rusangano Family, the harmony-loving Henry Girls, Laura Sheeran’s Changeling (a dance/ music/ spoken-word soundclash), guitarist-to-the-stars Philip Donnelly and UK alt-folk singer Rozi Plain.


Bulmers free music trail stretches across the entire week in Clonmel town, starting with an Open Mic session in Gleesons and ending with The Young Folk Sunday night in Morans.  There’s something for everyone in this programme.  Check out Carey’s beer garden on Sunday afternoon for some The Molly Hicks and The Cedartowns, Moran’s for Soul Diva Karen Underwood on Saturdaynight or rock out with Slow Motion Hero’s on Friday night.  What about Liam Daly’s for some blues with Mojo’s Blues Band on Saturday night?  What about some up close and personal time with an unplugged set by Cian Nugent in Phil Carrol’s on Sat or an intimate show by Katharine Phillipa in the Railway Bar, step into Eldon’s on Saturday night for some Old Hannah – they’ll put a spring in your step with some old time tunes.


Witches & Fairies Rave w/ Lords of Strut

Secret Location

(July 10)


Part art installation, part dance party, part motivational speech. Come in your finest Witch or Fairy costume and get ready to get loose with the Lords for 30 minutes of down-town groovin, music fueled, hard core on the dance floor.


Food Events


Tanabata Night: An intimate evening of Japanese food and culture with Takashi Miyasaki

Location: Mitchelstown Cave

7.7.7 (7pm on the 7th of the 7th)


TANABATA – 七夕 meaning evening of the seventh is a Japanese festival celebrating the annual meeting of two star-crossed lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi. For Clonmel Junction Festival award winning Japanese chef Takashi Miyazaki will create a fine dining experience to honour Tanabata in Tír na nÓg (the final publicly accessible chamber of Mitchelstown Cave). This underground culinary experience has a very limited number of seats available.


‘Murder Mystery Night’ (5 course meal)

Location: Kickham Barracks

(July 5, 6)


Roaming chefs, the GLUT team dish up, so prepare yourself for a night of exquisite food, extravagance and intrigue set in the unique Barracks Church in Clonmel. This multiple murder mystery sweetened by black comedy shall take guests to a world where Agatha Christie meets The Chef’s Table.

‘Eat Me Drink Me’

Location: Kickham Barracks

(July 7 – 10)


Using Tipperary’s summer harvest the generous GLUT team will sustain and nourish the body and soul of Festival and audience alike. Serving Brunch, Lunch, Tea & Supper, Coffee, Eat Me Cakes & Drink Me potions.


Theatre Programme


A Game Called Lucy Finally Wins

Location: Hickey’s Bakery

(July 6 – 8)


‘A Game Called Lucy Finally Wins’, starring Julie Sharkey, is a play within a game show where the stories of Lucy’s life are revealed entirely by chance and audience participation. As each performance is determined by each audience, A Game Called Lucy Finally Wins is different every time. This evening’s star performer is Lucy. Will this be the evening where Lucy finally wins?


Beowulf the Blockbuster

Location: White Memorial Theatre

(July 5 – 7)


Beautifully crafted and performed, this gripping, funny and poignant “tour-de-force” (New York Times Critics’ Pick) reminds us that life is not about how we die, but about how we live. This one-man stage phenomenon, an Edinburgh Fringe First award-winner, stars an utterly compelling and charismatic performance from award-winning actor, and one of Ireland’s most skilled performers, Bryan Burroughs.



Location: Mulcahy’s Bar

(July 5 – 7)


Attending 12 pubs of Christmas…Starring in her own private (imaginary) music video set on board a Bus Eireann vehicle… Getting comfortable with cursing… Just some of the obstacles facing Marion.


The poignantly funny ‘Marion’ stars Laura O’Mahony as seen in RTE’s Republic of Telly, Comedy Bites, Ronanism and Sketch!




Lords of Strut: Late Night TV Talk Show

Location: White Memorial Theatre

(July 8)


The action-packed talk show that’s all talk and no action. A fantastical hour of slapstick mayhem in the guise of a TV talk show. The talented but idiotic brothers Seamus and Sean’s dream has come true; the dream to host their own TV show. It all goes terribly wrong and hilariously right! Through the disaster and tornado of laughs, watch a thrilling soap opera into the absurd: talking rocks, stupid gags, audience participation and dance routines so flash it could be the 80s!


Panti Bliss: High Heels in Low Places

Location: White Memorial Theatre

(July 10)


National treasure, performance legend and accidental activist Panti brings her hit comedy High Heels in Low Places to Junction festival. Charting brushes with infamy, near misses with fame, and adventures in the seedy underbelly, the Queen of Ireland invites you into her ultra-padded, hyper-real, stiletto-shaped world, as she swaps stories from the gutter and trades secrets of the stars.

Stand-up funny man Neil Delamere, and the football-pundit baitingApres Match team complete the comedy line-up for this years festival.


Visual Arts/ Exhibitions



Location: Kickam Barracks

(July 4 – 10)


Ailbhe Ni Bhriain, collaborating with musician sisters Linda and Irene Buckley, uses images and sound to create scenes in which the dimensions of time and place are out-of-joint. ‘Passages’ – the warmth of shared journeys, the mystery of night ships and the passing of time. Passages was originally commissioned by Cork festival Sounds from a Safe Harbour in 2015.


Gottfried Helnwein: A Child for Sale

Various Locations

(July 4 – 10)


Austrian born, Gottfried Helnwein is a painter, draftsman, photographer, muralist, sculptor and performance artist of world renown who uses a wide variety of techniques and media. He divides his time between his home in Tipperary and studio in Los Angeles.


His work is concerned with psychological and sociological anxiety, child welfare and historical topics and political issues. ‘Murmur Of The Innocents’ among other works will be exhibited in various public spaces.


Intrude by Amanda Parer

Location: Kickham Barracks

(July 4 – 10)

‘Intrude’, marking its first exhibition in Ireland, is a public art installation by Australian artist Amanda Parer features monumental 7m high sculptural rabbits, inflated and illuminated in stark white light, each sewn in white nylon.


Intrude is an edgy and ephemeral artwork exploring the natural world, its fragility and our role within it. Intrude’s five original sculptures have visited more than 19 major cities throughout the world, including London, Perth, Paris and Boston.

clonmel junction festival rabbits


Brendan Canty – Leaving

Location: Main Guard

(July 5 – 10)


Brendan Canty is a filmmaker /director of Feel Good Lost, a Cork-based production house for music videos, visuals, record releases. Canty has an impressive video cv including the Conor McGregor beer ad and music videos for Hozier (Take Me To Church) among others.


While known as the go-to-guy for unique film production, his photographic work is equally as appealing but not so known to the public. This is the first exhibition of his photographic work.



Family Events


Sugar Plum Fairy Trail

Location: The Apple Farm of Tipperary

(July 5 – 10)


We have invited some visiting fairies to holiday in the Plum Orchard at Con’s Apple Farm. They are going to bring their houses, fairy dust and magic for all to see. Come and explore the wonder and expand your imagination.


Lego Workshops

Location: Place4U Cafe

(July 9 – 10)


Children of all age groups can build or play with Lego workshops for various levels: Early Beginners (4 – 6 yrs), Junior Robotics (4 – 9 yrs), Senior Engineering (8 +)


Street Entertainment

w/ Lords of Strut & Circus Outside the box

Location: Kickam Barracks

(July 9 – 10)


Irelands most lovable idiots will present their show street or the whole family – you can even bring your granny. Satire, surrealism and silly comedy with flashes of surprising acrobatic skill make Lords of Strut, bright, tight and incredibly funny live entertainment!


Mad Hatters Tea Party

Location: Kickham Barracks

(July 10)


Dust off your maddest hat and take a trip down the rabbit hole with us for some Sunday morning fun. All is not quite what it seems at Kickham’s Barracks! Enjoy tea and cakes served by the characters of Wonderland as you sit amongst the Giant White Rabbits as things just seem to get curiouser and curiouser.



Festival Commissions & Discussion


Michael Fortune: Local Folklore Project

Location: Place4U

(July 5 – 10)


CJF16 artist Michael Fortune will collect and produce a new body of folklore in film and photography from the residents of the Clonmel Voluntary Housing Association and Marian Court Sheltered Housing group.


Moving Mountains, Wishing Wells, Bridget Cleary We Won’t Tell

Location: St Patricks Well, Gortmore

(July 4)


To mark the opening of the festival, artist Yvonne Mc Guinness will work with the local community to devise a performance piece in celebration of Bridget Cleary. She makes immersive work, which is collaborative and generally temporary. The work is often a catalyst to generate other narratives for its participants.



Salon: The Witching Hour

Location: Main Guard

(July 10)


A conversation exploring the pull of the Otherworld; In Celtic mythology, the Otherworld is the realm of the dead and the home of the deities and other powerful spirits.


This event is inspired by the local story of Bridget Cleary -“the last witch burned in Ireland”, immortalised in a children’s rhyme: “Are you a witch or are you a fairy, Or are you the wife of Michael Cleary?”.


Join Angela Bourke, author of ‘The Burning of Bridget Cleary: A True Story’, visual artist Alice Maher and Manchán Magan in conversation about the role of folklore and superstition in Irish tradition.


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