Friday 20 April 2018

Summer fun on the festival trail

From food to music, literature to comedy, there is something for everyone, writes Lucinda O'Sullivan

Lucinda O'Sullivan

LIFE is what you make it. And, one way or another, you can have a brilliant summer in Ireland by following the festival trail – and many do. I am not just talking of food festivals, but also literature, music, comedy, the lot.

As you are sitting down to your full Irish this morning, the good people of the Burren Slow Food Festival are waking up to the third and final day of their seventh annual event in Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare. This year's special guest is London-based Irish chef Richard Corrigan, who always brings a bit of fun to proceedings. If you are in the area pop along:

Kicking off on Thursday next with an opening concert in the Castlecourt Hotel, Westport will be alive with the sound of music for the Mayo International Choral Festival. The festival runs until next Sunday, and will see over 40 choirs arriving from all over Ireland, as well as from the UK, Germany and the US.

Next Sunday, Sheridan's Cheesemongers is hosting its fourth Irish Food Festival at its headquarters in Meath. A numerous array of food producers will be there to sell, sample and talk about their foods. The criteria for the stalls here is that the food is made in Ireland, is of great quality, and that the people behind the stalls are the people who made the food. As well as offering products to sample and buy, they promise plenty of stalls cooking hot food, lots of space for picnicking, workshops with Irish food producers and chefs, as well as children's entertainment and live music. Entry to the car park is €5. You can register online for the workshops.


Also kicking off on May 26, and running until June 3, in and around the village of Mountshannon, Co Clare, on the shores of Lough Derg, is the Iniscealtra Festival of Arts. The festival will be opened by Sheila Pratschke, who is director of the Centre Cultural Irlandais in Paris, an important resource for Irish arts and artists since its transformation from what was the Irish College in 2002.

With ceilis, musical performances, exhibitions and workshops, there will be plenty to see and do. Free outdoor lakeshore concerts, storytelling, puppetry, demonstrations and activities for all the family will take place over the bank holiday weekend. Look out for the Film & Food Event, Tortilla Soup, on May 30 at Mountshannon Hall. The film will be followed by a themed three-course meal prepared by "maestro" Noel Lyons.

Four of North Clare's visitor attractions have come together to offer a combined Burren4Ticket at €18 (a saving of €17 on individual tickets) which allows you to visit Aillwee Cave and Burren Birds of Prey Centre (www.aillwee, the Burren Centre (, Caherconnell Fort ( and the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience (

The third Love Gourmet Week, running from June 1 to 9, covers the Limerick and Shannon region. Twenty restaurants in the area have united to promise an outstanding dining experience at exceptional prices with a host of fringe events also taking place, as well as wine deals and cocktail specials. Menus are priced from €25-€45 and offer "outstanding value for unique culinary specials with locally sourced produce during the event".

Chairperson of Love Gourmet Week is Padraic Frawley of the Cornstore Group and restaurants taking part include Wade Murphy's new 1826 Adare, Absolute Bar & Grill, Brasserie One at 1 Pery Square, Adare Manor, The Maigue at Dunraven Arms, Cherry Tree, Killaloe, The River at The Strand, Tuscany Bistro, and more.

Dalkey Book Festival has grown over the past four years and this year's event takes place from Friday, June 14 until Sunday June 16. Over the weekend, as well as literature from the likes of Edna O'Brien, Roddy Doyle, Anne Enright and John Boyne, there will be comedy with Colm O'Regan, Barry Murphy and Gary Cooke, theatre featuring Eamon Morrissey, Bewley's Cafe Theatre and Bloomsday events, history and sport as well as politics with Carl Bernstein and Robert Fisk. Children's writers include Eoin Colfer, Oisin McGann and Sarah Webb. Check out the children's story competition for budding young writers.

Taste of Dublin kicks off again this year in the Iveagh Gardens from the June 13 to 16. Participating restaurants include Diep Le Shaker, Brasserie Le Pont, The Chop House, Jaipur, The Hot Stove, Gordon Ramsay at Powers-court, Aniar, Wineport Lodge, Il Primo, Knockranny House, Pier Restaurant at the Ice House Hotel and Dylan@The Dylan Hotel. Chefs taking part include Jean Christophe Novelli, Sunil Ghai, Ross Lewis, Derry Clarke, Clodagh McKenna, Rachel Allen, Darina Allen, Catherine Fulvio, and Jonray and Peter Sanchez who run the Michelin-starred restaurant 'Casamia' in Westbury on Trym, near Bristol. You can also expect a Taste of Thailand and a Taste of Malaysia.

Cork Midsummer Festival is a major event running in Cork city from June 21 to June 30 providing 'unique events in unexpected places'. From theatre, dance, music, opera, visual art and special events, there is something here for everyone. Among dozens of exciting events is Maria de Buenos Aires, Astor Piazzola's tango opera, which sees Cork Opera House stage transformed into a waterfront bar complete with colourful tango dancers.

Drogheda Samba Festival takes place from June 28-30 and hopes to attract 300 or more drummers – the biggest number ever gathered in Ireland. With Sambo Resille, Arco Iris, Blogo Fogo and Maracatu Bafo da Onca coming from France and the UK as well as many Irish samba bands, there will be a lot of fun by the banks of the Boyne.

Westport's Festival of Music & Food 2013 will rock into town on Saturday and Sunday, June 29-30, with a rip-roaring line-up at the fabulous location of Westport House. Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Christy Moore, Imelda May, Sharon Corr, Martha Wainright, The Waterboys, Alabama 3 and the Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club will be lighting up the three stages, whilst the Comedy Tent will have Barry Murphy, Colin Murphy, Phil Jupitus, Reginald D Hunter, Joe Rooney, and Danny Dowling, with Karl Spain and Joe Rooney as Hosts. The Chefs' Kitchen in the Food & Wine Magazine Village will be hosted by Norah Casey, Blathnaid ni Chofaigh and Tony Fenton, and will be a blend of music and food with cookery demonstrations by Ross Lewis, Richard Corrigan, Kevin Dundon, Dylan McGrath and Seamus Commons.

There will be lots of Eats & Treats opportunities, plus a kids' corner with fun and games. Amid all of this activity, you can retain your poise at Dylan Bradshaw's pop-up salon to refresh your tresses and talons, as well as a face make-up team to keep you festival fabulous and ready to have your portrait captured by photographer Barry McCall at his drop-in photo booth studio. Check out prices for camping and non camping at

Devotees of Percy French will be taking themselves off to Castlecoote House in Co Roscommon, for The Percy French Summer School and Festival, July 10-12, 2013. There will be plenty of Phil the Fluther's Ball and Are You Right There, Michael? You can learn plenty about the man behind the lyrics as well as the social realities of his era.

Kinsale is known now not only for its fantastic Gourmet Festival in October but for its Arts Festival, the ninth of which runs this year from July 6 to 14. The festival motto is 'Expect the Extraordinary' and I have no doubt that the Kinsale Arts Festival team will deliver the 'extraordinary' yet again this year with music, drama, visual art, and fun.

On Sunday July 7 a Gathering Event entitled 'Come Home for your Tea' will see a Street Tea Party in Kinsale hosted by the town's coffee shops. Visitors can stroll through the streets, sampling a selection of delicious home-baked cakes, cupcakes, teas, coffees and lemonades. Expect strolling performers dressed as Mad Hatters and Mrs Doyles!

And to the arty side of things. 'Now Wakes the Sea 2013' is an open submission exhibition for emerging artists. Judged by an independent panel of selectors, the exhibition aims to provide an important international platform for new and emerging contemporary visual artists from Ireland and the UK who have not yet had a major solo show. The overall winner of 'Now Wakes the Sea' will be awarded a solo show.

After all the culture and good food in Kinsale, you will be ready to move over or combine it with another bout of fun at the Kenmare Food Carnival which will be taking place from July 12-14.


So, eat, drink and enjoy yourselves.

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