Wednesday 13 December 2017

Flood warning! Outpouring of praise for great weekend

Paddle-boarding on the Boyne during the Maritime Festival at the weekend.
Paddle-boarding on the Boyne during the Maritime Festival at the weekend.

THERE NOW follows a flood warning! This column will contain a gushing and outpouring of immense pride in Drogheda, and begrudgers who prefer to give out and say nothing good ever happens here, should look away now.

Still with me?

Good, because it probably means you also managed to get out in the glorious sunshine over the weekend and enjoy the splendid Irish Maritime Festival and Drogheda looking and feeling like it should.

Not since the heyday of the Bonanza days in the 1980s and 1990s, with all its raft races, pram races and the like, has there been such a buzz in the town.

The organisers – from the local council, Drogheda Port and Audrey Gallen Brown – to all the volunteers and river rescue members, each and every one deserves a pat on the back for such a professional, but above all enjoyable, few days.

Yes, we've had great events in the recent past, especially for the annual Arts Festival and during the Local Heroes months.

But this time people turned out not because they might be on telly, but because it really did sound like a good festival.

And for once, what you saw on paper was as good in real life.

There was something for everyone.

From the new cars to the live music, the excellent food village to the artisan market, the quality and standard was kept consistently high.

There was a huge wealth of talent on show as well in the art exhibition.

Hats off to Eugenia Whelan, Kate Fitzpatrick and the other members of the Amergin Art Co-operative for pulling that together.

The funfair is what you would expect – I dropped €40 in under eight minutes – but my children and their friends had a ball.

And then there were the main attractions – hosted by our grand dame, the Lady Boyne. And a splendid host she turned out to be.

The Tall Ships were actually tall – or the tide was higher than last year!

Whatever, stream upon stream of visitor boarded the visiting craft, and had more than one tussle with the friendly pirates on board.

Rowers, paddle boarders and hundreds of very brave and hardy swimmers... it was wonderful to see our great river come alive once more.

Daring water-skiing displays, and even the odd superhero, thrilled all those lucky enough to catch those shows.

Each and every section of the weekend was well-planned, organised and executed.

As a maritime town, which has always had a thriving port, it's about time we saw this asset put to good leisure and commercial use once more.

Events like the Irish Maritime Festival show that the proposed marina and maritime museum are also long-overdue, and pleasure trips along the river would be a welcome addition.

It also shows what the spirit of co-operation between local authorities and community can achieve.

One of the most gratifying things on Monday morning was seeing photographs of the weekend adorning almost every timeline on Facebook.

The good weather helped, but for three days, the town was unified in enjoying Drogheda on the Boyne as she deserves to be.

I sincerely hope this not only becomes an annual event, but can be built upon and improved as the years go by.

Drogheda Independent

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