Clonmel Applefest is a brand new festival which aims to celebrate the unique ‘sense of place’ emanating from Clonmel’s special location; from its mix of industry, agriculture and heritage. By celebrating what is most genuine and authentic about Tipperary’s culture and heritage, we hope to develop a network of champions and a community of supporters from a wide range of backgrounds. To create a truly original and special festival that reflects the multi-layered histories of the county, and Clonmel in particular.
Clonmel Applefest started in 2017 with the ‘Apple Treasures’ research project created by artists Theresia Guschlbauer and Lyn Mather, also known as the collaborative collective ‘2CanDoArts’. The project was an investigation involving Clonmel people and stakeholders into how apples, apple growing and cider making affected and influenced the town and its people, and how this unique ecosystem and creative energy might be reactivated by artistic means in a beneficially meaningful way for Clonmel Town today.
In collaboration with film-maker Eimear King and performer/writer Louise Garcia, the collective researched the apple growing traditions of Clonmel and over the summer of 2017, interviewed numerous local people – including ex-Bulmers employees and apple orchard owners. They gathered stories and memories which were presented as part of the ‘Apple Treasures’ exhibition and ‘Tree Trail’ for Culture Night.
SuirCan Community Forum, from the outset, endorsed this project for its envisioned contribution and value to developing Clonmel’s public amenity realm. The humble apple and its relationship to the bee could do much to raise the awareness and status of Clonmel and its environs as a unique destination. This vision of focusing on apples and bees could in due course benefit the region’s existing biodiversity, food and hospitality profile, even building the region’s international reputation.
What 2CanDoArts brought to this project was to place arts and creativity at Applefest’s centre, to develop new ideas involving both creative practitioners and the key stakeholders identified throughout this project.
2CanDoArts explored, mapped and displayed the vernacular culture associated with apple crushing and pressing; the gestures and smells; the sights and sounds; the activity that took place in the vicinity of the Friary, where Bulmers used to manufacture their cider. Contributions of filmed footage, photos and stories from the collective of stakeholders and interest groups were collated.
The ‘Apple Treasures’ project was designed to be as accessible as possible, to allow young and old to contribute. The exhibition was interactive and child-friendly, and included school visits and apple-themed workshops. The ‘Tree Trail’ was in-situ on the most public pedestrian street areas of Clonmel on Culture Night, throughout the weekend and the following week. Each tree was decorated to represent a different apple theme which appealed to young and old.
A set of 7 apple trees was planted as part of the Positive Mental Health festival along with SuirCan and members of the public. Another set of 6 was planted in conjunction with the Presentation Transition Year and 5th Class Primary students. A further 12 trees were then planted along the Suir Blueway in collaboration with the Tidy Towns committee in early 2018.
Clonmel Applefest is a SuirCan Community Forum initiative in conjunction with 2CanDoArts.
Steering committee: Lyn Mather, Elke Wilson, Theresia Guschlbauer, Jenny Cox, Sarah Furno, Shannon Forrest, Theresa Ryan, Helen Armitage, Neil Dennehy.