Feast of festivals to say 'so long' to summertime
With summer almost at an end, you can still create a few sunny memories at these fantastic festivals, says Lucinda O'Sullivan
So the sun hasn't shone on us much this summer, but when did we ever really need the sun to have a good time? For us, the sun has always just been a bonus! There are still two weeks in which to have a really great time before the kids go back to school. You can create memories that last forever at many of the festivals around the country which are just waiting to be enjoyed.
The Rose of Tralee Festival is in full swing until Tuesday night, when the 2015 Rose will be selected, with a huge programme of events to entertain all the family. The Roses on Parade event, with marching bands, floats and, of course, the Roses, takes place today at 2pm, and, after that, the Garda Band will be playing on the Denny Street Stage from 3pm. Tomorrow, between 2pm and 4pm, there is a tea dance with some Roses in attendance at Baile Mhuire, but if canines are more your thing, there's also a Paws and Tails Dog Show at the town park. It all started in 1959 and it's still an amazing festival.
From August 17-23, the sixth Nigerian Carnival Ireland takes place at Axis Ballymun, and will include activities such as hair braiding, drumming and dance workshops and you'll be able to taste mouth-watering traditional foods and drinks from Nigeria. The festival kicks off with a Welcome Ceremony on Monday, followed by Children's Cultural Day on Tuesday. There is also a Business, Investment and Tourism Expo on Thursday to give investors the opportunity to meet and network with Nigerian entrepreneurs, business, and government representatives. The highlight of the week, the Grand Carnival, takes place from noon - 8pm at The Plaza, Axis Ballymun, and will see participants take part with local and international Nigerian musical artists, as well as artistes from other cultures, with a blend of pop, from Afrobeat to gospel to hip hop, at the carnival arena for over eight hours of fun and excitement. There will be lots of open-air stalls with food, arts and crafts.
Lovers of traditional music will be heading for Bantry, where the Masters of Tradition festival takes place from August 19-23, with events taking place in the glorious surroundings of Bantry House and St Brendan's Church. The festival is headlined by fiddler Martin Hayes from east Clare, with other performers including Cathy Jordan and Liam O Maonlai.
The fifth annual Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival, from Thursday 20 to Sunday 23 August, is taking place in fabulous Waterville, on the Ring of Kerry, where the great entertainer and his family holidayed for many years at the Butler Arms Hotel. The festival honours his pioneering spirit with an entertaining range of events, screenings, workshops and Chaplin themed entertainment.
Another great historical entertainer was George Formby, a Lancastrian comic and actor who played his ukulele and sang When I'm Cleaning Windows. So, if you want to see what ukulele music is all about, head for the two-day Ukulele Hooley in Dun Laoghaire next Saturday and Sunday, for impromptu street performances, workshops and a major open mic event on the seafront.
There are a lot of events taking place that weekend, which are perfect for kids. Next Sunday, in Skerries, Co Dublin, as part of National Heritage Week, Skerries Mills is hosting the Fingal Vintage Harvest Festival, with scarecrow building, a soapbox derby, fancy dress, a vintage car display, harvesting demos plus food and craft stalls. Dress to impress in your best 1950s outfit and explore the lovely surroundings of Skerries Mills. Adult admission €8, Children free.
On the same day, you can see Athenry Walled Towns Day, a free family event that illustrates the history of the best preserved medieval town in Ireland. It is a showcase for local artisan crafts and a place where history comes alive with weapon displays, archery, falconry, music and interactive activities for children. Events take place throughout the town, including in the 13th-Century Norman castle, the heritage centre and the community park. A visit to Athenry is also the ideal opportunity to explore the medieval streets and walk through the town's original North Gate and, of course, to find out what the ballad The Fields of Athenry is all about.
Meanwhile over in Ballina, Co Mayo, next weekend will be about all things French, with the French-Ballina festival. They promise to take you on a dreamlike trip through the streets of 'Paris in Ballina', when the town will be transformed to resemble Paris, with food and culture being the key parts of the festival. French-Ballina looks to celebrate the cultural and historical connections between Ireland and France with a wide range of music, film and theatre, including a spectacular event on the Saturday night at Ballina's Military Barracks, as the venue transforms into a live, open-air carnival scene.
The night will feature music from Beyond the Barricade, a musical show featuring classics from Les Miserables, captivating traditional Breton group Ar Maen Du and headline act Sharon Shannon. Admission, adults €10, children under 12 are free.
The following Friday, August 28, sees the kick-off of A Taste of Donegal Food Festival, a three-day celebration of great food and drink. It will feature over 100 food producers from all over the country showcasing their products, and celebrity chef demonstrations Neven Maguire, Kevin Dundon, Gary O'Hanlon and Brian McDermott.
The event takes place in a tented village on the Pier in Donegal with a backdrop of the Bluestacks and Donegal Bay. Adult admission, €5; children, €1. Weekend pass, €12.
Also running from August 28, for three days, is the Loughrea Medieval Festival 'Gathering of the Clans'. Loughrea was founded in 1236 by Richard de Burgh and has the only surviving medieval moat in Ireland. Event highlights include a Medieval Clan Banquet, a candlelit Latin Mass and hymns in the 13th-Century Old Abbey, a medieval food and inn trail, music with a harpist and strolling musicians, a children's kingdom including games and natural craft workshops, a bustling food and craft market and boat trips on Lough Rea to view the crannogs.
Go and stockpile some great summer memories to think about around the fireside on those dark January evenings.