Bloom and vroom for the bank holiday
Hundreds of thousands of spectators are expected in Dublin for major events over the weekend, writes Dara Folan
Rock for Rory
Today is the grand finale of this year's Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal.
The widely acclaimed festival honours Ballyshannon's favourite son with a heady mix of renowned Irish and international acts. Horslips headline tonight's 7pm slot. Tickets are €30 but there will be a host of free concerts and gigs throughout the day.
Bandon Music Festival
Founded in 1997, the Bandon Music Festival has featured some of the best-known names in Irish music. Cork's very own Fred will headline today's set. Tickets: €14.30.
Just For Laughs
Kilkenny's celebrated The Cat Laughs Comedy Festival, now in its 18th year, has become a staple feature on the Irish and international comedy circuit. The city will play host to the likes of Simon Amstel, David O'Doherty and Al Murray until tomorrow. Tickets available at various prices.
Ireland Bike Fest
Open to bikers and non-bikers alike, Ireland Bike Fest continues in Killarney. This family-friendly festival will feature food, drink, live music and an array of motorcycle-based activities, including festival highlight, the Custom Bike Show. Entry is free.
The second edition of the Forbidden Fruit Festival, will be held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin, until tomorrow. New Order and Wilco are the main headliners tonight and tomorrow night respectively but the festival boasts a diverse and impressive range of bands and comedians. Two-day ticket: €89.50. One-day ticket: €49.50.
King of the Sheep
While it may sound like the plot for an episode of Father Ted, the All-Ireland & International Sheep Shearing and Wool Handling Championship, in Punchestown, Co Kildare, should be an enjoyable day out for all the family. International competitors will fight it out in a series of sheep and sheepdog-based events, with events wrapping up this evening at 6.30pm.
Family ticket: €25.
We HAve never had it so good on a June bank holiday. The traditional high-point for festivals, cultural and sporting events all around the country boasts a huge array of free events this weekend.
With a huge selection of concerts, workshops, galas and races taking place the length and breadth of the country, there is something for everyone. But be warned -- Dublin city centre will be off-limits to private cars today and tomorrow because of the Bavaria Dublin City Motor Racing event today and the record-breaking Flora Women's mini marathon tomorrow, with 40,000 women participating.
However, the weather may be a spoilsport. Today and tomorrow look like being noticeably cooler than recently, with outbreaks of rain affecting many places.
More than 40,000 GAA fans from Longford, Wexford Louth and Dublin heading to Croke Park will also have to choose their route carefully to make it in time for the much anticipated Leinster Football Championship quarter-final double-header today.
Bavaria City Racing is set to generate over €10m in revenue for businesses in the capital, according to the event's organisers. Dublin will become Monte Carlo today as Formula 1 champion Jenson Button and other motorsport stars bring their high-octane skills to Dublin's city centre. An estimated 2,000 overseas visitors are expected for the five-hour event,
Starting at the Convention Centre, F1's finest will power their way through the streets. The city track runs along Custom House Quay, dipping onto the southside through D'Olier Street and Dame Street before rounding off the circuit at the chequered flag on O'Connell Bridge. The vast majority of access is free with the event due to attract over 100,000 spectators.
The Bloom gardening festival takes place all weekend in the Phoenix Park. Those travelling to the capital are being warned that if they drive they will face major delays.
Garda Superintendent Sean Ward said: "For people travelling to the north from the south, we would be suggesting that they use the M50 orbital route and access Croke Park, for instance, from the N1, N2 and N3," he said. "There could be some delays on the East Link."
The chief executive of the Road Safety Authority, Noel Brett, said people needed to remain vigilant during the weekend and "arrive alive" at their destination.
A free shuttle bus to and from Heuston Station will be available for the duration of the Bloom festival event.
The Flora Women's Mini Marathon tomorrow is the biggest event of its kind in the world.
Starting at 3pm, the marathon covers a 10km stretch south of the Liffey. Beginning at Fitzwilliam Square and stretching as far as UCD Belfield, the marathon will conclude at the finishing line on St Stephen's Green. Traffic restrictions and diversions will be in force from early morning. The use of public transport is encouraged.
On the run in South
It is not just in Dublin where runners will take to the roads en masse. Over 10,000 athletes are expected to take part in the Cork city marathon tomorrow.
The race begins at 9am on Patrick's Street with the related half-marathon event beginning at 11am.
The finish line will also be on Patrick's Street -- with the organisers expecting over 50,000 people to be in the city centre for the finish.
The event is the highlight of Cork's June Bank Holiday Weekend Festival.
Olympian Rob Heffernan will be the guest of honour and will be participating in the relay section of the marathon.
Both current champions -- Sergio Ciobanu and Angela McCann -- will defend their titles for the first time in the race's history.
Another highlight is that Tom Corkery -- who ran in the first Cork marathon in 1982 -- will be returning in an attempt to match his time 30 years later.
Meanwhile, the popular Innishannon Vintage Steam Rally will take place in west Cork today and tomorrow.
The event is one of the biggest gatherings in Ireland of vintage cars, bikes, tractors and agricultural machinery.
This year the rally, celebrating its 15th anniversary , will boast its largest ever collection of vintage fire engines.
All the proceeds go to the Irish Cancer Society.