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Displaying items by tag: Turbot Island

New residents of a Connemara island, which was once depopulated, have put an offshore exhibition together for the Clifden Arts Festival.

Four artists on Turbot Island are hoping their work will be viewed on the island, and have organised a ferry timetable from Clifden Boat Club for “InisturbART”, as the event is called.

Turbot or “Inishturbot” is a few miles west of Clifden and south of Omey, and its population of 60 was relocated to the mainland in 1978, four years after three islanders died in a currach capsize.

Patrick O’Toole (58), Patrick Stuffle (48) and Michael Wallace (62) were on their way home to Turbot from watching the All-Ireland football final in Clifden in September 1974 when the incident happened.

Driftwood painted by Dutch island resident Stefan FrenkelDriftwood painted by Dutch island resident Stefan Frenkel

Latterly, seasonal visitors bought property, and Covid-19 transformed Turbot into a refuge from the pandemic.

Among those who found themselves extending their seasonal stay and adapting to island life were Dutch couple Stefan and Hanneke Frenkel, both of whom have worked in advertising and interior design.

They were inspired by the island environment, and the enforced quarantine during the early stages of the pandemic, to develop their creative skills.

Hanneke Frenkel’s sea mats and carpets, woven from rope washed up on the shoreline, caught the eye of the curators of the Irish pavilion at this year’s Venice Architectural Biennale.

Collecting sea rope off Turbot island for the artists' exhibition for Clifden Arts Festival.JPGCollecting sea rope off Turbot island for the artists' exhibition for Clifden Arts Festival

Her husband Stefan has transformed pieces of fish boxes, ropes, nets, buoys, rubber ducks and other beachcombing material into paintings which reflect “small events on Turbot”.

David Wilkinson has recorded his experiences in coming to the west over several decades in a book entitled Island Journal: One Year and a Day. He first came as a child as his parents had a holiday home on Inishlacken, close to Roundstone.

Also participating in the group exhibition is Dublin maths teacher and musician Peter Knox, who spends much of the year now on Turbot. Several years ago, he adapted a poem about the 1974 drownings, which was written by local man Joseph O’Toole, into a song.

The piece entitled “Turbot Men” was recorded on video. Knox has also created a private art gallery in his island home.

The four artists say that living on the remote island has allowed them to “embrace the challenge of limited entertainment” by “unleashing their imagination, resourcefulness, and love for island living in a range of art projects for their group exhibition”.

They have put together a three-and-a-half hour tour on Turbot for Clifden Arts Festival participants, and there will be three ferry crossings a day from Clifden Boat Club on September 16th, 19th and 24th, with tickets at 20 euro.

Another Connemara island, Omey, will be venue for an illuminated procession by landscape theatre specialists LUXE which will celebrate the Connemara Pony Breeders’ Society’s centenary as part of the arts festival programme.

Christy Moore, Clare Sands and Johnny Óg Connolly are among musicians performing at Clifden, while Séamus Ó Flatharta (voice and whistle), Caoimhe Ní Fhlatharta (voice and fiddle), Pádraic Keane (uilleann pipes) and the ConTempo Quartet (viola, violin, and cello) will present “Stolen Hearts,” a new piece by Grammy Award winning composer Bill Whelan.

The festival’s extensive arts trail includes work by Seán Ó Flaithearta in Clifden Court House and Connemara Muses, an initiative led by 16 female artists.

Talks and readings will include sailor and explorer Kevin Cronin, speaking on his new book, In Search of Franklin: An Irish Connection, and James Morrissey, author of Real to Reel:Garech Browne and Claddagh Records.

Michael Viney’s last book completed before he died will be launched by Irish Times group managing director Deirdre Veldon on September 24th .

The Clifden Arts Festival will be opened by broadcaster, uilleann piper and musical historian Peter Browne on September 13th, and it runs until September 24th.

More details here

Published in Island News
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Turbot “new” islander Hanneke Frenkel is hosting an exhibition of her “sea carpets” made from ocean flotsam and jetsam as part of this year’s Clifden Arts Festival in north Connemara.

Frenkel, who bought a cottage with her Dutch husband Stefan on Turbot island some years ago, began making the “sea carpets” from washed-up ropes when the couple were confined to the island during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As she has explained in an interview with Afloat’s Wavelengths, she cuts the ropes washed up on Turbot’s shore into loose string and uses the strings to make a pattern - with the ropes “deciding themselves what kind of carpet they want to become".

Sea Carpets Exhibition on Turbot  IslandSea Carpets Exhibition on Turbot Island

Her exhibition includes a tour of the island and the opportunity to forage for lost items in places rarely visited by tourists.

Hanneke  in her workshopHanneke in her workshop

The event is one of a number with a marine theme at this year’s 45th Clifden Arts Festival, the oldest community festival of its type in Ireland.

Turbot IslandTurbot Island

Wildlife cameraman and film maker Doug Allan spoke last week, and this week’s programme includes “The People of the Sea/ Uaisle na Mara”, featuring leading Irish language poet Nuala Ní Dhómhnaill, TG4 2020 singer of the year Lillis Ó Laoire and renowned harper Cormac de Barra.

The story behind a lament for Liam Ó Raghallaigh, a man from Erris, Co Mayo, who was drowned on his wedding day, will be recalled and performed by Ó Laoire.

He will be joined by literary critic Patricia Coughlan and Dr Fidelma Mullane at the afternoon event in Clifden’s Station House Theatre on September 23rd.

Ní Dhómhnaill’s sequence of poems on na Murúcha a thromaigh – the mermaids who became dry land creatures – is said to represent some of her most compelling explorations of linguistic and cultural trauma.

De Barra will also reference some great maritime tunes and harp airs, while Ó Laoire will explore the legend of the mermaid and will sing An Mhaighdean Mhara, a song about the mermaid made famous by Áine and Cití Gallagher of Dobhar in Donegal’s Gaoth Dobhair.

Details on Clifden Arts Festival’s full programme are on www. Clifdenartsfestival.ie

Published in Island News
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Turbot Island's main claim to fame has been its sighting by trans-Atlantic aviators John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown before they crash-landed at Derrygimlagh bog in north Connemara on June 15th, 1919.

Turbot or “Inishturbot” is a few miles west of Clifden and south of Omey. One very sad and memorable event in its history was the loss of islanders Patrick O’Toole (58), Patrick Stuffle (48) and Michael Wallace (62) in September 1974.

The three men were on their way home to Turbot from watching the All Ireland football final in Clifden when their currach capsized.

Trans-Atlantic aviators John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown sighted Turbot Island shortly before they crash-landed   Transatlantic aviators John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown say they sighted Turbot Island shortly before they crash-landed in Connemara over one hundred years ago

Four years later, the population of about 60 was relocated to the mainland.

The ruin of the old schoolhouse on Turbot IslandThe ruin of the old schoolhouse on Turbot Island

That event was remembered last year with the release of a video, accompanied by music by Peter Knox. It was based on a poem called Turbot Men which was written by a mainland resident Joseph O’Toole after the fishermen drowned.

Peter Knox (left) and Turbot islander John O'ToolePeter Knox (left) and Turbot islander John O'Toole

Dutch couple and Turbot “new islanders” Stefan and Hanneke Frenkel who financed the video weathered last year’s first pandemic wave out there. Brian Hughes of the Abbeyglen Hotel in Clifden, who hosted the video’s launch, also has a house there.

Hanneke Frenkel collecting "sea rope" to make carpets last year on Turbot islandHanneke Frenkel (above and below) collecting "sea rope" to make carpets last year on Turbot islandHanneke Frenkel collecting "sea rope" to make carpets last year on Turbot island

This week’s Wavelengths podcast also has an interview with John O’Toole, whose house the Frenkel's purchased all those years ago. O’Toole was reared on Turbot, left at the age of ten, but maintains a strong connection with the island.

Published in Wavelength Podcast
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