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July 2016 Arts Network

Another great night at the Arts Network and another great showcase of the artistic talents among the people of our county. Four acts that entertained and engrossed the audience from start to finish. First up it was the O'Hagan sisters, Josephine and Angela. They sang a number ballads, unaccompanied as they learned from their mother and other visitors to their home and area of Clara in North Monaghan. They are also accomplished musicians on violin and banjo and can be heard at many of the local sessions. While traditional music was their starting point they have acquired a liking for soul and blues music of the late Ted Hawkins. However their choice of songs for the showcase was very well received and the audience, though not a full house, raised the roof by joining in the chorus. The second artist was Kevin Mallon from Castleblayney, who mastered in Film production but soon applied his very considerable talents to painting and the visual arts. Kevin works in large scale, like murals, and geometrical shapes control much of his work. He is in great demand for various commissions in various parts of the world and has organised painting events at music festivals. At the show case a number of his paintings were exhibited and everyone had an opportunity to gaze at them and read whatever they saw. Many approached him individually to ask questions and receive answers, which they did. The break for refreshments came next and a fitting time for plenty of chat and discussion after which Áine Ní Mhaoileoin, who lives in Galway and is completing a Masters in Writing at NUIG, presented us with a sample of her short stories and creative writing. It is no wonder that she has won awards and has had some of her work published as she held the audience spell-bound with her narration on her compositions. It was very enjoyable indeed and led us to the last act which was Dublin born singer-songwriter, Alex Watson. He is now resident in County Monaghan and is involved with a number of bands. He is a multi-instrumentalist and is a member of Moposogs. Life happenings and occasions give rise to inspiration for some of his songs, many of which have been aired on radios in Ireland, USA and Europe. He also makes custom electric guitars to order. He has opened the Corfad Recording Studio in Ballybay and can play and record backing music for tracks. You might also see him with a camera and he takes a lot of photographs. For some of the songs he sang for us he was joined by Des Murphy on guitar and they, together, produced a magical sound. The night was compered by comedian Lorcan McGrane. Well done to all the performers and to the organisers for their continued work in providing the showcase for artists and for audience.