Festival fun under an August moon
This month's festivals are kicking off across the globe, but there is much to savour at home, says Lucinda O'Sullivan
August is a big month for festivals worldwide. The Chinese and Vietnamese celebrate the August Moon Festival, whilst in Spain the inhabitants of Bunol get together to pelt one another with tomatoes at La Tomatina. All over Iceland, on the first weekend of August, bonfires are lit and vodka is shared, whilst in London the Notting Hill Carnival is a major event on the last weekend of August. Some might say we now have too many festivals in Ireland, but I say keep them coming for they bring money into the local area, bring people together, lift the spirits and are a great base for showcasing our talent and products.
Last year I attended the second Taste of Cavan festival, which featured producers and chefs from all over the region. I gobbled through piles of delicious jams and chutneys, chomped through oceans of cheese and artisan sausages, met 12 farmers who banded together to produce premium free-range chickens and sampled lots of other treats.
This year's Taste of Cavan takes place next weekend on August 8 and 9 at the Food Marquee at the Cavan Institute, with a host of great food producers along with cookery demonstrations from chefs Neven Maguire, of MacNean House at Blacklion, and Gearoid Lynch of the Olde Post Inn at Cloverhill, who will also talk about living with gluten intolerance.
This year they will also be joined by 'new boy on the block', the brilliant and affable Richard Corrigan, who has recently bought the eponymous Virginia Park Lodge, and no better man for banging the drum for Cavan across the water. Glamour as well as cookery prowess will be added to the stage, with Clodagh McKenna, Rachel Allen and Maire Dufficy of Bord Bia.
However, from tomorrow, in Cavan there is also a week-long World War I commemoration marking the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War in 1914.
It was a war that changed the face and style of living, and many Irish men and women died on the battlefields of France. It is estimated that up to 1,000 Cavan men died and, in 2012, through a Peace III Programme, a roll of honour was created and a memorial erected to these men in Cavan town. To date they have traced 652 of the men.
All week there will be very informative and moving events, from lectures to theatre, films to music and art. Tomorrow, the Cavan World War I trench experience, a full-size outdoor 350-metre replica of the trenches at the Somme will be launched to enable people to comprehend the living conditions endured there.
On Tuesday there is a Celebration of Food Pre-War Style black tie event at the Olde Post Inn in Cloverhill, with a seven-course tasting menu. You can wear your best Edwardian gear if you wish. Tickets cost €65.
There is also a two-day World War I Conference with Sebastian Barry, Piet Chielens, Dermot Bolger and Myles Dungan amongst others, while Shell Shock, a new play by Philip Doherty, was specially commissioned.
Next Saturday night, at the Cavan Institute, a concert celebrating A Taste of Shared Cavan Culture will feature, amongst others, Willie Drennan and the Ulster-Scots Lambeg Folk Orchestra with songs of World War I and marches of the Irish Regiments of the British army, as well as accordion music, poetry, storytelling and great Irish dancers. www.thisiscavan.ie
This weekend also sees the Caherciveen Festival of Music and the Arts in full swing with lots happening in the town. There is a Barman's Race from Quirke's Corner as well as a Mad Hatter Magic Show on the festival stage, plus various cartoon characters moving around the town. In the evening, Two Time Polka take over the festival stage followed by The Riptide Movement, who will rock you into the night. www.celtic musicfestival.com
In Enniscorthy today, the final part of the colourful re-enactment of the Battle of Vinegar Hill takes place amidst pike-charging rebels and musket-wielding Redcoats. www.visitwexford.ie
The 50th National Steam Rally is also taking place today and tomorrow at Stradbally, Co Laois, with over 20,000 visitors expected. There will be plenty of trade stands selling products from auto jumble to vintage fashion and children will love a steam train ride through the lush woodlands of the Cosby Estate.
Tomorrow morning, in Dublin, sees the Rock 'n' Roll Dublin Half Marathon kick off at 8.30am from the corner of North Wall Quay and Castleforbes Street and finishing at the Phoenix Park. There is also a fun run starting at 11.45am at Chesterfield Avenue, Phoenix Park and finishing at the same location. So get out there, give them support and enjoy the buzz. ie.competitor.com
Festival Cluain Meala is running at the moment until August 10. It is a collaboration of three Clonmel festivals - the Medieval Town Walls Festival, the Suir Valley Three Day Cycling Festival and the Clonmel Busking Festival.
From August 7-10 there will be over 75 bands busking and playing over 150 free gigs throughout the streets and pubs of Clonmel, culminating on August 10 with a Giant Street Ceili, followed by a huge Clonmel Rocks concert, with Mundy, Corner Boy and many bands from the South East. www.facebook.com/FestivalCluainMeala
The iconic Dublin Horse Show kicks off at the RDS on Wednesday so, no doubt, as well as looking at the horses and show jumping, many glamorous ladies will be getting out their best dresses and hats for Ladies' Day on Thursday.
There is also a Craft and Student Art Exhibition Awards on display at the RDS Concert Hall, which is well worth visiting. www.dublin horseshow.com
Kilkenny Arts Festival is Ireland's oldest multi-disciplinary arts festival and the 41st festival runs from August 8-17, providing 10 days of the best of Irish and international theatre, music, film, craft dance, literature, visual arts and children's events.
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre makes a return visit to Kilkenny Castle's magnificent 18th Century Castle Yard with nine open-air performances of Much Ado About Nothing.
Architects of Air UK were a big hit last year and this year their latest luminarium, Pentalum, at Kilkenny Castle Park features a breathtaking central dome and a maze of magical spaces filled with enchanting light effects - a wonderful space for all ages to explore - and it is wheelchair accessible.
Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. www.kilkennyarts.ie
Also in Co Kilkenny, Somos Todos Vuleraveis is a festival of poetry, paintings, sculptures and film at distinguished Irish artist Elizabeth Cope's Shankill Castle, Paulstown, running from August 8-17, featuring a number of Brazilian artists, as well as paintings by Elizabeth Reuben and Phoebe Cope, Mungo McCosh, Andrew Currey and Jennifer O'Donohue. www.shankillcastle.com
As the 55th Yeats International Summer School draws to a close on August 8, Sligo Fleadh Cheoil will be following on from August 10-17, promising a week-long jamboree of music, song and dance, not to mention late nights and family fun. www.yeatssociety.com, www.fleadhcheoil.ie
In Dublin, over the weekend of August 15-17, The Big Grill Festival takes place in Herbert Park, Ballsbridge, where you can learn all about barbecuing through demos and workshops. The event also features a chilli eating challenge, a little griller kids area and a grand BBQ cook-off. www.biggrillfestival.com
In Kerry, Puck Fair kicks off in Killorglin for three nights of fun on August 10, with a wild mountain goat being crowned King of the Town. www.puckfair.com
Whereas in Tralee, from August 15-19, there aren't any goats but a bevy of beauties from around the world competing to be crowned the 55th Rose of Tralee. www.roseoftralee.ie
And just when you think you are partied out, you can head off to Doolin from August 22-24 where, in the gardens of Hotel Doolin you can take part in the third Doolin Craft Beer Festival and enjoy great beers from craft brewers from all around Ireland, along with food from local artisan producers and the best of Co Clare's musicians. www. irishcraftbeerfestival.com
Maybe that's a good note to finish up on!