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Festival triumph just a stone's throw away

IT'S unlikely to ever become an Olympic sport but stone skimming drew a huge crowd to a summer festival this weekend.

Up to 45 competitors lined up to pit their skills against each other for the stone skimming champion-ships in the Sea Breeze Festival in Fenit, Co Kerry, on Saturday.

One competitor, Pete Hill, had travelled from England to take part, but he had to be satisfied with second place when he failed to beat the 65-metre distance achieved by local man Eugene Farrelly.

To qualify for a valid throw, the stone has to skim off the water at least three times and then it's all about distance.

The festival also featured other unusual water pursuits, including crabbing and aqua golf.

Even local TDs Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan and Arthur Spring tried their hand at the stone skimming.

Five times All-Ireland football champion Deenihan had to concede defeat to the younger competitor. "He had youth on his side," Mr Deenihan said.

More than 8,000 visitors attended the two-day festival, run on a voluntary basis by locals.

John Moriarty, who helped organise the event, said: "We're hoping to promote Fenit as an eco-tourism destination and a heritage village."

St Brendan is said to have set off on his voyage to the new world from the village. It was also just off its coast that the German vessel 'The Aud' was intercepted by British forces in 1916 laden with 20,000 rifles and 1,000,000 rounds of ammunition where it was due to meet Roger Casement.

Irish Independent