Tipp to launch Macnas rival

A STREET entertainment company to rival the renowned Macnas group in Galway is being launched in Tipperary.

Ten-feet tall warriors, knights on horseback and elaborately-designed costumes, floats and creations will be regular sights around the streets of Clonmel once the group gets up and running.

The company is called Shellikybookie — a local colloquialism for a snail.

But there’s nothing slow-moving about the ambitious plans that those behind the project have drawn up.

“It will be big and brash and will wow people on the street through the performances,” promises local artist Anthony Lawless, one of the company’s artistic directors.

Anthony has dabbled in this genre for years, through his own exhibitions and creating the props for shows.

Now he wants to see if it can be done properly on a larger scale. He and the others involved believe it’s a concept that has fantastic potential and they hope it will be well supported.

The spectacle of pageantry will be brought to the streets of the town through the creative arts, which the group says will bring street entertainment to a new level.

A core group of “imagineers” and a team of volunteers will invite their audiences to “dare to dream” in the hope that the performances will capture the public’s imagination and have a long lasting effect on everyone involved.

Des Dillon, Ciara Connolly and Ursula Mullins are the other artistic directors and Peter Taylor and Laura Cotter are the musical directors.

Alison Cronin is the choreographer and the performance director is Shane Dempsey.

Shellikybookie has already been lined up for a Walled Towns Festival which will be held towards the end of August and will be its first event; and the summer Field Shows staged by the town’s youth marching band, Banna Chluain Meala in Clonmel and other towns, including Arklow, Athlone and Tallaght.

The company has plans to stage an event for Halloween, using the old lanes of the town. It’s also hoping to get the go-ahead to install temporary gigantic installations on the river Suir.

Mr Lawless says there will be several random performances that might arrive on the streets at any time.

The group will rely heavily on grants from local government and the Arts Council and also hopes to generate funding from private companies.

Shellikybookie is appealing for volunteers of all ages from 16 up to help turn the dream into a reality.

“It can be for just a few hours a month or a couple of nights a week,” says Mr Lawless.

The directors are looking for artists, craftspeople such as welders, carpenters and painters; costume-makers and designers, and people with creative writing skills.

There will be a place for those who want to help out.

Picture: Anthony Lawless, one of the artistic directors of Shellikybookie (Photo: John D Kelly).

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