New Ross town will come alive from mid-July with music, bingo and a drive-in cinema as summer sessions festivities get under way.
Festivities organiser Tomás Kavanagh said: 'The town centre of New Ross is a jewel in our crown, something that can showcase all that is great in New Ross. European towns build their brand around their historic centres, New Ross is better placed than most to do the same.'
Tomás said the Library Park is a lovely, natural venue that is ideal for social distancing, has great acoustics, and is perfect for relaxing summer evenings enjoying the sun going down over New Ross.
Wednesday evenings in the Library Park kick off on July 15 with Keith Flannigan performing Songs from the Musicals, along with accompanist Ger Griffin.
New Ross & District Pipe Band perform at the Library Park on the following Wednesday, while The Nomads will rock the amphitheatre on July 29, followed by energetic performances from New Ross Pantomime Society on August. Lots more entertainment is being lined up for the rest of August and September.
'The South Street Sessions' will see bands perform every Saturday evening from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
'Family friendly and staycation friendly, this will be light entertainment. South Street will be closed to traffic and outdoor seating will be provided.'
Starting on July 18 with local band Trilogy, followed by the sensational Maca, back from Florida and performing in South Street on July 25
'Into August we have Lee and Fitzy on August 1, with Borderline on August 8 and local brother and sister Jack and Jenny Ryan on August 15. Lots more Saturday gigs through to the end of September to follow.'
Sunday afternoons in South Street and it's eyes down for Outdoor Bingo.
'All over Wexford bingo lovers are waiting for a return to their favourite game, and New Ross will have open air bingo each Sunday afternoon in South Street starting on July 19,' Tomás confirmed.
Meanwhile a 'Drive in Cinema' will be the big draw over the August Bank holiday weekend. Based at Dunbrody carpark movie fans can look forward to a mix of family and horror, comedy and action films.
The programme for a summer of cultural and fun events in New Ross is being finalised, councillors were told at the monthly meeting of New Ross Municipal District.
District manager Mick McCormack said the council was approached by St Michael's Theatre manager Tomás Kavanagh and some representatives from the board of Feachtas Ealain with a proposal for cultural events and festivities during July and August. The proposal includes concerts in the Library Park, outdoor Sunday bingo, a drive-in cinema for one weekend and other festivities, including music on South Street during weekend evenings.
Mr McCormack said: 'The proposal would include the closing of South Street from the top of Charles Street to the old cinema from 5.30 p.m. on Saturday, reopening at around 9 p.m. and closing from 1 p.m. on Sundays.'
An ideal staycation festival, Mr McCormack said: 'I think this town can certainly do with a festival that provides entertainment.'
Cllr Bridín Murphy said as a board member of St Michael's Theatre, she acknowledged the work Mr Kavanagh has done to put a programme in place. Cllr Murphy said it will help fill the gap left by the cancellation of festivals, including the Eugene O'Neill international theatre festival in October, which has been postponed, along with the Kennedy Summer School and piano festival, until 2021.
Cllr Anthony Connick welcomed the plan, adding: 'It's great to see it's going to be in the middle of the town as well.'
Cllr Sheehan said: '€30,000 is quite a considerable investment and amount of money. Some groups out there are going to be very agitated that they have been precluded from this and very unhappy that they wouldn't have the opportunity to contribute.'
Cathaoirleach Cllr John Fleming said: 'A lot of effort and money is being spent on this. I would definitely be in favour of it and it's part of a town restarting programme.'
Mr McCormack said he appreciates it's a substantial investment by the members to help kickstart New Ross town's economy. 'Every year you decide on your festival programme. This year 80 per cent of festivals didn't [or won't] occur due to Covid-19. It's substantial but I have great confidence in the theatre and I have no doubt that they will put on a fine festival over the summer.'
Cllr Pat Barden asked what kind of concert was planned, seeking more detail on the proposal. Mr McCormack said there is a mixed programme planned. 'We are allowing Tomás's artistic knowledge to guide us on that. Really it's about getting bums on seats and getting people into towns and supporting the night-time economy in sympathy with Covid restrictions.'
Cllr Murphy said Mr Kavanagh can proceed with planning the fine detail of the programme once councillors decided whether or not to approve funding.
Cllr Barden was informed that there is an open forum whereby suggestions can be made,
Cllr Michael Whelan welcomed the proposal, while Cllr Connick said there are big costs involved, especially considering hiring PA systems. '€30,000 is not a lot when you break it down.'
Cllr Sheehan continued that he had an issue with the cost, saying the council was leaving itself 'wide open' to publicans who could make a case for hiring bands to play outside their premises. 'For €5,000 you could have plans playing outside every night of the week [this summer].'
Cllr Whelan said councillors approved funding for a festival Cllr Sheehan was involved in organising earlier this year which had far less detail, a statement Cllr Sheehan rejected.
Cllr Murphy said Cllr Sheehan was being unfair when he compared a programme of cultural and fun events to pubs downtown putting out chairs on the street for music.
Cllr Sheehan abstained from voting on the issue, which was approved having been proposed by Cllr Connick and seconded by Cllr Murphy. He asked for a revised public realm plan for the town.
New Ross Standard