Weather fails to rain on festivals' parade
A DECIDEDLY damp bank holiday failed to quell the Irish appetite for festivals as thousands turned out to enjoy the varied entertainment on offer around the country.
In Kerry, 'liquid sunshine' was the best that was on offer, but motorcyclists from all over Europe still enjoyed some of the country's nicest scenery from the vantage point of the saddle.
Over 30,000 motorbike fanatics were in Killarney, Co Kerry, for International Bike Fest 2012, one of the top events in the European touring calendar.
"We only got liquid sunshine, but if you were worried about the rain in Ireland, you'd never take your bike out," one enthusiast said.
One of the highlights of the festival was the daily ride-outs around well-known touring routes on the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula, marshalled by bike clubs, Celtic Thunder Chapter Ireland and Gaelic Chapter Ireland.
In Donegal, pigs really did fly, but only as fast as their little pink legs could carry them down a racetrack yesterday, to raise funds for 200 people with intellectual disabilities.
Trotters galloped and bets were wagered on snouts as several hundred people bought and raced pigs in sponsored races at Mullinasole, near Laghey.
The event was staged to raise funding for Cregg House, Sligo, which faces a funding cut of €1.3m below its 2011 level.
In Punchestown, many were fleeced, but no one minded as the crowds were there to watch the All-Ireland and International Sheep Shearing and Wool Handling Championships 2012. As well as the fast actions of master shearers, Jedward were mobbed by ecstatic fans when they dropped in to say hello.
And in Listowel, as Writers' Week drew to a close, another festival was only beginning with the first of a two-day race meeting. Yesterday was ladies' day, and the first prize was heading back over the Border with Kate Ferguson from Port Stewart in Co Derry, who won a €2,500 voucher to spend before she left in the town's boutiques.
Chairman of Listowel Writers' Week and poet Sean Lyons said they were now exploring the possibility of tying in next year with 'The Gathering', the government initiative to attract visitors from abroad to attend cultural events throughout 2013.
Meanwhile Dublin Writers Festival, which begins today, is a sellout for some of the biggest names on this year's programme, including philosopher Alain de Botton, Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa and leading atheist Richard Dawkins.
A packed programme runs throughout the week. A discussion with the American writer, Edmund White, featured on the official programme, has been cancelled due to illness. The full programme and tickets to all events are available at the Festival Box Office at Filmbase on Curved Street, tel: 01 6877977, and on www.dublinwritersfestival.com.