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Wet weather fails to dampen our festival fever


Eoin Kavanagh at Duncannon Fort, Co Wexford

Eoin Kavanagh at Duncannon Fort, Co Wexford

Patti Smith performing at the Cork X Southwest music and arts festival

Patti Smith performing at the Cork X Southwest music and arts festival


Eoin Kavanagh at Duncannon Fort, Co Wexford

THE weather may have been decidedly mixed but the country was awash with festivals and events over the bank holiday weekend.

Tens of thousands of people took advantage of the long weekend to holiday in Ireland, giving the indigenous tourism industry a welcome boost.

In Wexford, a battle took place -- but all in the name of entertainment.

Duncannon Fort was built to repel the Spanish Armada and over the weekend it was once again taken over and occupied.

Re-enactors and military vehicles from throughout the years took part in a major military exhibition at the fort while hundreds of people watched.

Kilkenny played host to two very different festivals, the Cat Laugh's comedy festival and the 2011 Sheep and Wool Festival.

"The weather was fantastic, it was gorgeous especially on Saturday," Lillian Bourke who works in the Cat Laughs festival box office told the Irish Independent last night.

Jason Byrne, Neil Delamare, The Rubberbandits and Tommy Tiernan all appeared at Cat Laughs but Ms Bourke said the biggest turnout of the weekend was for a soccer match which saw the Irish comedians defeat the international comedians by a score of 3-0.

George Graham said the Sheep and Wool Festival in Cillin Hill, Co Kilkenny, was a huge success.

"It rained all around Cillin Hill but practically no rain fell on us," the programme co-ordinator for the festival said.

"We had a very mixed crowd, people from all over Ireland, families that would have nothing at all to do with sheep and also many from the farming community.

"You get a lot of people who have never seen sheep shearing before but when they come they get hooked. . ."


Mr Graham said that more than 2,000 sheep were relieved of an excess of 6,000kg of wool over the course of the weekend.

In Cork, spectators lined the harbour to watch more than 125 boats take part in this year's An Ras Mor as part of the Ocean to City Festival.

More than 400 Irish and international rowers sailed from Crosshaven via Cork Harbour before finishing at Lapps Quay in Cork city.

Up to 3,000 people watched at various vantage points along the route and were treated to a diverse range of vessels including Chinese dragon boats, kayaks, currachs, wooden boats, celtic long boats, Cornish pilots gigs and Irish coastal rowing boats.

The race received a record number of entries this year.

The city centre was transformed into a hive of maritime activity as mermaids, pirates and sea puppets roamed the boardwalk.

Some of the highlights included free public tours of the Naval vessel the L E Orla, music, market stalls, puppet making, face painting and street performances.

And there's more to come next weekend as for the first time ever, it will run over two weekends instead of just one.

In nearby Tipperary, the Clancy Brothers' Music And Arts Festival took place with Mundy and Paddy Casey entertaining the crowds; while ramblers took to the Galtee Mountains and the Slievenamuck hills for the Glen of Aherlow Walking Festival.

Hikers were also out and about further west at the Walk Killarney and Kerry 2011 festival, which gave people the chance to scale Ireland's highest mountain Carrauntohill or complete the famous Kerry Way.

At the foothills of the famous McGillicuddy Reeks mountains, Ireland Bike Fest saw more than 8,000 motorbikers roar around the streets of Killarney.

Most of the exercise in north Kerry was of the mind as aspiring writers attended seminars, workshops and debates at the Listowel Writers Week which celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Meanwhile, writer John Banville and journalist Robert Fisk were two of the speakers who attended the Flatlake Arts and Literary Festival, in Hilton Park Estate, Co Monaghan.

In Co Donegal, the final day of Ballyshannon's Rory Gallagher tribute festival was a washout with pouring rain driving thousands of trippers home early.

After three days where bands entertained up to 10,000 fans at open-air shows, the music was driven indoors yesterday.

By mid-morning there were queues for Dublin and Galway-bound buses out of the Donegal town as rain lashed down.

Despite yesterday's early departures the festival was reckoned to have brought €1.5m into the town.

Rory Gallagher, who died 16 years ago aged 47, left Ballyshannon with his family to live in Cork when he was only three. But the Co Donegal festival in his name claims to have developed into one of the best rock and blues shows in Europe.

Irish Independent