Festival Fit


Three festivals every week for a year. MARK GRAHAMhits the booze, blas and banter

FESTIVAL FATIGUE is an awful dose, at least that’s what I’m told. I’m worried it hasn’t kicked in yet. It’s possible I’ve damaged an important warning mechanism of some description. An 8am start on Saturday morning last was a bit of an ask, but when “Booze, Blaas and Banter” of the highest quality were on offer, it was worth while revving up a frosty engine in Wanderly Wagon.

Jordan’s early house on The Quay in Waterford saw poets, musicians, storytellers, raconteurs and raving alcoholics gather to slurp creamy stout, chew on floury blaas (similar to a bap, but not). The event was a collaboration between Imagine Arts Festival and the Council of Trade Unions. Picture a buoyant Billy Brag with a bottle and a blaa. After two creamy pints, a shot of socially aware culture and a quick nap, I was trundling down the road to Kilkenny for a beer tasting and tapas session at Savour Kilkenny.

A range of craft beers to accompany some plates of tempting and tasty titbits served as an appropriate appetiser for a show called Wine Goose Chase. Our hostess and leading lady Susan brought wine to life with rich historical tales infused with Irish heritage. Her enthusiasm for intoxicants would make Charlie Sheen raise an appreciative eyebrow. Every time Susan launched into another interesting story, we were given another glass of relevant wine. I know as much about wine as I do about the Large Hadron Collider; I should probably have a greater appreciation of both. It might have been the multiple glasses of wine, it could have been the brandy toast or it may even have been Susan’s engaging stories that gave me a deeper appreciation for fermented grape juice, but it was definitely her ad-libbed reference to Buckfast that made my night.


I don’t believe in ghosts, but that doesn’t mean they don’t scare the bejeepers outta me. A Fright Fest was an event on Sunday that started with stories from people who worked and lived near the haunted Halfway House pub in Co Waterford. These stories had an unsettling air of authenticity about them.

Outside the inn, beside a well-steeped in spooky tales, things started to resemble an episode of “Most Haunted”. The torches were all turned off and the crowd remained silent. A scream broke the silence as someone swore they saw a shadowy hooded figure walking through the trees and others agreed. There were further shrieks and some sensible souls legged it. Some people took pictures on their phones and the oddest of these displayed a shadowy hooded figure in the background, he definitely wasn’t there when the picture was taken.

Myself and a handful of other eejits volunteered to spend the night in the Halfway House for a seance and a long night of no sleep. I comforted myself with the notion that if nothing else at least it was a lock-in. Between 2am and 3am we set out to commune with whatever spirits might be present . There were creaks, footsteps and one person was tapped on the back, but nothing concrete that would sway a sceptic. The medium leading the session had been in constant contact with spirits all night, in the shape of Jameson and ice, this may have hampered contact somewhat.

I’m not too proud to tell you I was planking it and on one occasion I ended up screaming like an 11-year-old girl at a Jedward concert. I’ve been sleeping with the light on in my bedroom since.

Unfortunately I failed to retain my All-Ireland Conker Championship crown in Freshford last Sunday, but an enjoyable morning supping pints, beer sampling with tasty tapas, a wine- tasting show and some scares to get the heart pumping, more than consoled me. How could I be tired of festivals? There’s more chance of me seeing dead people.

Safe travels, don’t die.

* ayearoffestivalsinireland.com

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