Making a virtue of vice at celebration of the arts
KINSALE has become a destination for stag nights and hen parties. Hardly surprising then that the fishing port has made the theme of this year's arts festival 'Vice & Virtue'.
The event combines high-brow political and artistic debate with more hedonistic passions including music, street dance and, arguably Kinsale's most famous activity, gourmet dining.
For families, it boiled down to simple pleasures such as face-painting, busking and over-sized ice-creams.
Now in its eighth year, the event is worth €4m to the local economy -- and its reputation has attracted festival goers including Lord David Puttnam, Eden founder Mike Smit, historian and author Diarmuid Ferriter and restaurant guru Martin Shanahan.
The fishing port was thronged with revellers yesterday who were determined to defy leaden skies and the threat of yet more rain.
Dublin couple John and Ann Doyle loved the festival last year and were determined to return.
"There is so much going on -- and you're spoiled for choice when it comes to pubs and restaurants," they said.
Even locals got in on the act with Kinsale youngsters Mikie (6), Julie (4) and Tess (3) mesmerised by an inflatable pink tank, which creator Abigail O'Brien entitled 'the Raspberry Decoy'.
Queen Elizabeth also got an honourable mention -- Yorkshire couple David and Joyce Waltham admitted that the success of last year's royal visit made them think of an Irish break.
Canadian tourists Lynn Norvan and Nancy Menard were determined to spend a few days in Kinsale after touring Kerry.
"We'd read about the arts festival and wanted to see it," the Ontario holidaymakers explained. More than 15,000 people are expected to throng Kinsale's streets and piers by the festival closing ceremony on July 15 -- with director Gemma Tipton saying the event aims to combine fun with more sober topics.
The performers this year include Jan Hendrik Rubel, Roustem Saitkoulov and Gerald Garcia.
Martin Shanahan -- TV chef and Fishy Fishy proprietor -- will run a series of cookery exhibitions aimed at copper-fastening the town's claim to be Ireland's gourmet capital.
And, if all the dancing, drinking and eating leaves you feeling a bit guilty, consider a lecture on how you really should be living and what it means to be human by the Abbot of Glenstal, Mark Patrick Hederman.