Ferns festival will celebrate the link between Wexford and Wales

Ferns Castle

Brendan KeaneEnniscorthy Guardian

FERNS village in County Wexford is gearing up for what could be the family weekend of the year when its hosts the appropriately named Festival of Ferns.

The organisers have put together a packed programme of events for the June Bank Holiday weekend and have ensured there is a link to Ancient Connections and the heritage connection between that area of County Wexford and the St David’s area of Wales, in the UK.

On Sunday, June 4, a very special concert will get things under way in the spectacular setting of St. Edan’s Cathedral, at 7.30 p.m.

The Allabair Trio, composed of Melanie O'Reilly (vocals), David Creevy (guitar) and Brewen Favreau (Uillean Pipes/Low Whistle), are world renowned musicians and the concert is the final part of an original song cycle composed by Melanie, which comprises new songs inspired by the connection between St. Aidan and St. David.

The guest choir at the concert will be the The Chord on Blues, led by Mary Moulds.

Also on bank holiday Sunday, the local pubs of Ferns will be hopping with trad music and other local performers.

From 3 p.m. in the afternoon to late into the evening, Dunbar’s, Doyle’s Bar, The Thatch and The Courtyard, will host the best of local music to celebrate the ancient links between Ferns and North Pembrokeshire in Wales.

The celebrations continue into bank holiday Monday with the Festival of Ferns parade including a sea monster, a giant beehive, The Horsemen of Éire, and an array of local performers taking to the streets.

The parade will begin at 12 noon and it will tell the story of the legend of St. Aidan and St. David. The organisers of the festival said the parade will form a visual spectacle representing the journeys that took place between Ireland and Wales.

“The Sea Monster will represent the crossing by St. Aidan to Wales,” said a spokesperson for the organisers.

“A giant beehive and a swarm of bees will represent St. Aidan departing Wales with David's blessings and the founding of the monastery in Ferns by St. Aidan,” he added.

“The Horsemen of Éire will accompany the parade on horseback – dressed in medieval costumes - setting the tone for the festivities to follow in the castle.”

The parade will be led by the Bloco Garman drummers, who are certain to amplify the medieval atmosphere of the event.

The parade will lead spectators to Ferns Castle where a magnificent, medieval jousting display will be held featuring the Horsemen of Éire. The Castle ‘jousting grounds’ will also play host to an afternoon of family entertainment.

Festival of Ferns is part of the Ancient Connections programme which was formed to celebrate the ancient links between communities in North Pembrokeshire and Wexford. “From the Stone Age through to Medieval pilgrimage, many ancient stories reveal strong links between these two Celtic lands,” said the spokesperson.

“One such story is the long term friendship between St. David, patron saint of Wales and his pupil and protégé, St Aidan, who is closely associated with Ferns in Wexford,” he added.

"Festival of Ferns is sure to be a fun, family weekend that will rediscover this shared heritage.”

Tickets for the concert in St Edan’s Cathedral, priced €12, are now available from www.fernsvillage.ie and all other events taking place over the festival weekend will be free of charge.

For more information log on to www.fernsvillage.ie or ancientconnections.org