Food, glorious food
BALLYLONGFORD'S appetite for this coming weekend's Oyster Festival was well and truly whetted at a cookery demonstration by one of the county's finest culinary talents on Friday.
Firies-based chef Mark Doe was in the north Kerry village's parish hall on Friday to prepare a three-course meal in the first of several events over the weekend. That it still has mouths watering in Bally says a lot about his talent.
Starting off with a herb-crusted seabass appetiser, Mark delivered a twin main course of rosemary and lemon-marinated chicken and rack of lamb with peach salad and mint pesto and finished off with one of the finest confections eaten in Ballylongford in many a year - a lemon 'posset' with a rhubarb compote.
"It was delicious and everyone really, really enjoyed the demonstration," one of the organisers Maria Hanrahan O'Neill said. "He had a great way about him that kept everyone entertained all the way through. The only downside is that we didn't have as many at it as we had hoped for." Ballylongford was deluged by a 27.5mm of rain - according to Maria's own rain gauge - in the 24-hour period from midnight on Thursday. The rain soaked those attending the annual graveyard Mass at Lislaughtin Abbey - which was scheduled one hour prior to the Doe-monstration - and many headed straight home to their showers and towels as a result.
After the rains, Donie Nolan's Céilí Band had the village hopping on Friday night with some even bringing several changes of shirt knowing how perspiring the beat would prove. And the weekend also saw local artist Mary Finucane exhibiting her beautiful paintings in the parish hall.
"We're all set for the Oyster Festival starting next Friday, August 8, with a free face-painting and balloon-twisting for children that should make the fancy dress parade more colourful than ever!" Maria said, explaining that the parade will be departing the Parish Hall at 8.30pm for the main stage in front of the Old Mills on Quay Street.
There, the Oyster Queen hopefuls will be interviewed before the big oyster-swallowing competition takes place. However, this year will see the inclusion of a brand-new competition in the Knobbly Knees contest. Maria and fellow organisers are calling on all blessed with unusual examples of the leg joint to take part in the event, which should be underway by 11pm.
Elsewhere over the weekend, Ballylongford will see raft-racing, treasure-hunting, fishing tutorials for kids and fishing competitions for adults, music in many of the bars over the two main nights of the weekend as well as an indoor soccer competition with a twist for the over-18s in Gerry O'Connor's Bar from 9.30pm on Saturday night.
And, of course, the Oyster Festival would not be complete without the annual seafood buffet, which takes place in the parish hall at 9pm on Saturday.