Celebration is on the horizon in Ballyheigue

Kerry Rose Sally-Ann Leahy is to open proceedings at this year's Pattern Threshing Festival in Ballyheigue at the start of a two-day celebration to see thousands descend on the parish.

The annual pilgrimage of the Pattern Day - day two - is the big draw as ever, with thousands from all over Munster and further afield to arrive for Mass celebrated by Kerry Bishop Ray Browne and many other priests at the Grotto on Sunday, December 8.

However, the festivities begin the previous night, Saturday, September 7, as the Causeway native Kerry Rose opens the Pattern Threshing Festival in the White Sands Hotel at 9pm - which she will do by wielding a traditional shears to cut a straw rope - to the sounds of Danny Houlihan's pipes.

What follows is a great night for trad fans from everywhere, with a special exhibition of dancing and singer Mary Lucid to perform a rendition of Michael O'Carroll's 'Ballyheigue' in the introduction.

That will be followed by two special events. Richard Casey, the stalwart traditional musician and composer from Causeway, will be presented with a special trophy by the committee's chairman Joe O'Sullivan, in recognition of his sterling services to the musical heritage of North Kerry and indeed to the Pattern Thresher harvest festival itself. Mary Lucid will meanwhile direct the 'Songs of the Diaspora Session' when both local and visiting singers will recall in song the impact of emigration on individuals, on families, on communities and on Ireland down the years.

Two giant Sessions will then get under way. Newly crowned All-Ireland Comhaltas Storyteller, Sonny Egan, will act as MC for the John Lucid Musical Group while Tom Lawlor will guide the night's thoughtful and jolly proceedings for the Richard Casey Musical Group.

"Everyone is invited to the free festival which has set deep roots in people's affections over the years. Being a lovely happy event, it is an ideal introduction to renewing acquaintances and preparing oneself of the Pattern Day ceremonies at the Well, where the Bishop of Kerry, Most Rev. Ray Browne, will concelebrate Mass at 11am," committee member Micheál Ó nAllmhúráin said.

"The festival group wishes to thank everyone for making the annual event such a success, especially Jimmy Browne, our vice-president; the White Sands Hotel, all the musicians, singers and dancers and the Community Development Department of Kerry County Council and Bathrooms4U for their help in funding the social event," Mícheál added.

Saxophonist John Collins has meanwhile been booked once more to add to the ambience in Ballyheigue on Pattern Day.