Friday 24 November 2017

Magic moments - the stars on their memorable festival moments

As we celebrate Ireland's summer festivals, Elle Gordon asked some of our favourite people for their most memorable festival moments

Ruth O'Neill
Ruth O'Neill
Alison Canavan
Stefanie Preissner
Louise Duffy
Looking forward to the 50th anniversary of the Mary From Dungloe festival - Daniel O'Donnell and friends
Daniella Moyles
Joseph O'Connor
Blathnaid Treacy
Suzanne Jackson
January Russell
George Hook

For all of us in The Rosses, this is a very special year as it marks the 50th anniversary of the Mary From Dungloe festival. I can remember as a wee boy attending the first festival back in 1968. The folk group Emmet Spiceland had just had a huge hit with the song, and the few local people decided that it gave their small community festival that took place the year before a recognisable name. The rest is history, as they say.

The excitement was almost too much to contain as the funfair arrived in town. The marquee was erected and the people came from far and wide to enjoy the festivities. Through the years, I have attended all of the festivals. I went from that small child in 1968 to being asked to officially open the event in 1995. This year I will take part in a street concert on Sunday, July 30, and I will also interview the girls at the crowning cabaret on Sunday, August 6. Hope to see you in Dungloe for this very special week where some more memories will be made.

AISLING O'LOUGHLIN

I love the idea of festivals, but I like my bed too much to fully commit to camping and staying up all night. I've always been this way. I have a cut-off point and I'm gone. I salute all those troopers who can stay going for days, sometimes without a shower. Yuk! Yes, I need a warm shower every morning too, or my day does not start. With all these little quirks in mind, I love the Groove Festival in Killruddery House, Bray, because they always pull in some great acts - this year it's Primal Scream and UB40, along with Irish acts like Chasing Abbey, Hothouse Flowers and Jerry Fish. Best of all it, it's a kid-friendly/parent-friendly event. This is greatly appreciated, and if the sun shines, it's the best way to hang out with friends, eat good food and listen to great music in a beautiful environment. I'm all set for the Saturday, August 19.

JANUARY RUSSELL

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January Russell
 

I was doing my usual Pink Panther-style trek back to the campsite in the wee hours at Body&Soul - theme tune and ninja rolls included.

I stumbled upon one of my best mates, Dom, and a crowd of about 100 people. He and another friend had begun an impromptu yet incredibly serious skipping competition. It was extremely competitive: Some 'athletes' injured themselves doing backflips in an attempt to win the highly coveted one-dollar note, signed by both founders of the skipathon. Everyone in the area or anyone who walked past was eligible to take part.

Of course I gave most categories my best shot, but competition was tough and I left empty-handed. I think our friend Kev has the signed dollar framed in his house. Next time!

The entirety of my first Burning Man Festival is probably my favourite festival memory. I went for the first time last summer, not really knowing what to expect or if I'd manage to last the whole 10 days. On the morning of the last day, I was devastated to leave; the whole experience was so positive and uplifting, it stayed with me for months after! I'm already counting the days to get back there again this year.

JOSEPH O'CONNOR

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Joseph O'Connor
 

On July 24, 1982, The Rolling Stones played Slane Castle. I was 21 at the time, a huge fan of the Stones. I couldn't quite believe they were appearing in Ireland. A bunch of pals and I went along. It is hard to put into words the sheer, exhilarating joy of coming over the lip of the hill and seeing that natural amphitheatre at Slane full of thousands and thousands and multitudes of people, as far as the eye could see.

The Chieftains played support, as did the magnificent George Thorogood and The Delaware Destroyers. But the sound as the Stones took the stage was like nothing I had ever heard, like 10,000 jet engines in full, orgiastic roar. I remember my friend John McDermott and I battling up to the front, the bliss of finding ourselves within 30 feet of the chain-smoking, tottering, head-banging ragamuffin that turned out to be the great Keith Richards.

Musically, it wasn't the best gig I have ever been to in my life, but oh, did it have its moments. That honking, stonking riff for Satisfaction. Mick posing and strutting his way through Brown Sugar and conducting the vast crowd. I'll never forget Slane '82, my first summer festival, and the best. Yeah, yeah, yeah. WOO!

STEFANIE PREISSNER

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Stefanie Preissner
 

I'm sorry to be the buzz-kill. It's brilliant that people have something to look forward to for their holidays, but I cannot relate to the impulse of wanting to go to a music festival. The idea of congregating in mud with people who haven't had access to running water in three days is not a novelty worth exchanging a week's wages for. In fact, the horror of that very description is the reason charities like Concern and Gorta exist. Adopting hippie values for the weekend but buying designer wellies and plastic daisy chains before you set off is not what makes my heart yearn for summer. Give me the creature comforts, and keep me away from crowds, Portaloos, having my head stepped on through a tent while I sleep, and impending fear of my phone dying with no electricity to restore it. If anyone's looking for me I'll be in my 10ft x 9ft yard, on my own, with my earphones playing cheesy pop music at a moderate volume.

SUZANNE JACKSON

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Suzanne Jackson
 

My favourite festival has got to be Coachella. I was there for the first time this year with my fiance, Dylan, and my sister, Carla, and we had the best time ever! It's my favourite overall for a couple of reasons. First of all, the A-list celeb sightings are out of this world. You could see anyone from a famous singer, to a Victoria's Secret model, to an international blogger, casually walking by. It's surreal! The weather is the second reason I loved it. It's in the desert, so the weather is phenomenal! When the sun is shining, it puts you in such a good mood, but when the sun is shining at Coachella, it puts you in an even better mood, because you're already having the time of your life and the weather just helps add to that chilled-out vibe! The third reason it's my favourite is because of the parties. Coachella's pre and post-festival parties are almost bigger and better than the festival itself. It's like one big long weekend of partying. I can't wait to go back again."

LOUISE DUFFY

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Louise Duffy
 

My favourite festival was also my first festival - Oxegen 2011. The line-up read like a shuffle through my iTunes, with the Foo Fighters, The Strokes, The Arctic Monkeys and Beyonce all appearing in Punchestown. My brother and all of our friends huddled together near the main stage on the Sunday evening - the sun was going down, Coldplay had kindly provided glowing wristbands and the atmosphere was magic. And just before their last song, Christy Moore joined them on stage and the crowd went wild. It was such a special evening. I've been to so many festivals since, but nothing has topped that particular weekend. We had the perfect mix of the best bands, the best weather, the best crew.

RUTH O'NEILL

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Ruth O'Neill
 

I fell in love with live music when I lived in Los Angeles and I used to go to Coachella Music Festival every year. Half of the fun at Coachella is the insane parties that go on all weekend in Palm Springs. Big brands like Guess, H&M, and Lacoste sponsor parties at private estates, with free booze, DJs, food trucks, free gifts. You have to get on the list for all these parties so you need connections. When I worked at E! News, it was the dream, because I could get on any list at any party. The ultimate after-party at Coachella is Neon Carnival - people live for this one! They convert an airport hangar into a carnival with a ferris wheel, bumper cars, photo booths, rides and a dance floor! It's free booze for the entire night; they fly a DJ in from Ibiza and it's wall-to-wall celebrities. I remember being at the bar and turning around and seeing Jared Leto, then Kelly Osbourne, then Gigi Hadid and the Jonas Brothers! Everyone in LA says it's the best party of the year. You dance and drink all night long, then somehow have to find the energy to go back to the festival the following day!

GEORGE HOOK

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George Hook
 

“Sadly, I have no interest in festivals.” 

ALISON CANAVAN

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Alison Canavan
 

“Years ago, we used to hire a tour bus and head off to Creamfields for the weekend. For me, festivals are a time to let your hair down, and even now that I’m sober, I still love them. We are all so busy nowadays that having fun is often forgotten. I hope to take James to some family-friendly festivals this summer and share the fun of festivals with him. I can wear wellies and glitter and no one will bat an eyelid. And let’s not forget how much you appreciate home, having been covered in muck for days!”

NICOLA HUGHES

“I remember years ago going to Life Festival, sleeping in a tent with no floor, so basically sleeping on the ground wrapped up in a good 10 layers — tights, trackies, hoodies, coats: the more layers the better! And the more in the tent the better — body heat was key. To be fair, we didn’t sleep much — it was near to impossible, being that cold. I remember coming home to my mum and dad head-to-toe in mud. Those clothes were binned and I was thrown in the bath”

BLATHNAID TREACY

“There’s nothing quite like the feeling of connecting with every person in a tent filled with complete strangers. One of my favourite memories is of a few friends and I running into the Circus tent at Electric Picnic to escape the rain. ‘Dirty Dancing’ was on a huge screen. We found a spot to sit down and became fully enthralled. And then the most wonderful thing happened... Patrick Swayze said those magic words, ‘Nobody puts Baby in a corner’, and BOOM! the entire tent erupted, strangers and best friends together, dancing and singing along to ‘Time of my Life’, guffawing at this magical moment, where everybody had the exact same impulse at the exact same time. It was one of the happiest moments of my life”

DANIEL O'DONNELL

For all of us in The Rosses, this is a very special year as it marks the 50th anniversary of the Mary From Dungloe festival. I can remember as a wee boy attending the first festival back in 1968. The folk group Emmet Spiceland had just had a huge hit with the song, and the few local people decided that it gave their small community festival that took place the year before a recognisable name.

The rest is history, as they say.

The excitement was almost too much to contain as the funfair arrived in town. The marquee was erected and the people came from far and wide to enjoy the festivities. Through the years, I have attended all of the festivals. I went from that small child in 1968 to being asked to officially open the event in 1995. This year I will take part in a street concert on Sunday, July 30, and I will also interview the girls at the crowning cabaret on Sunday, August 6. Hope to see you in Dungloe for this very special week where some more memories will be made.

Sunday Independent

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