THE humble spud will take centre stage in West Kerry this summer as Féile an Phráta stages a number of events to commemorate the Great Irish Famine while continuing its search to find the perfect potato.
The festival, which was launched by Coiste Féile an Phráta in TPs pub in Baile na nGall last week, will run from June 28 - 30 with the aim of recognising the importance of the potato in the lives and history of West Kerry.
The 2013 programme includes, among other things, a presentation (Éigse an Phrata) delivered by Dr Larry Geary and Shane Lehane of University College Cork on the long term implications of the Famine with a particular focus on the Dingle Peninsula.
Naturally enough An Spud Off Mór - the search to find West Kerry's best tasting potato - will be the centrepiece of the festivities.
Féile an Phráta begins on Friday June 28 with the first parish finals of An Spud-off Mór, followed by the second parish final on Saturday and the grand final will be on Sunday June 30 in Tig TPs.
A further highlight of the festival on Sunday morning will be a guided walk from Ballydavid to the old Famine village at Upper Riasc, near Ballyferriter.
"Potatoes have long been a staple of the West Kerry diet and local growers take great pride in the quality of their spuds," Aengus Murphy, Cathaoirleach of Coiste Féile an Phráta said at the launch in TPs. "Our annual competition to find the best quality potato is keenly contested. This year, with the active support of Údarás na Gaeltachta and the School of History in University College, Cork, we will expand the Féile to include a number of events which look back at An Gorta Mór."
"We believe it is particularly appropriate today to commemorate this terrible period both because of the critical link with the potato crop at the time and the impact the event had and indeed still has on this area".