Three festivals every week for a year. MARK GRAHAMgoes to a festival festival
Last week, there was a festival for people who throw festivals. The Association of Irish Festivals and Events set up camp for their annual two-day pow-wow in Co Galway. They talk, train, network, socialise, hand out gongs and this year there was some Gathering going on. Minister Michael Ring was there to fire up the troops who’ll be assembling the shindigs to dangle in front of ex-pats and pseudo-paddies to lure them back to the auld sod for the session next year.
While he was at it, he took issue with Gabe Byrne. Are the festival foot-soldiers enthused about the prospect of collectively putting their shoulder to the back of our 1983 Ford Fiesta economy, to give it a shove in an effort to jump-start the crock? They’re rolling up their sleeves, they’re bending their backs, but they’re not fully convinced that whoever’s in the driving seat knows how to let out the clutch. A rising tide lifts all boats and hopefully auld bangers too.
The festival folk seem a little apprehensive, easily understood when you consider many are being asked to do a lot more work and prep for little extra support. With or without a diaspora deluge arriving from off our western coast, the engineers of entertainment are slogging away to make their festivals happen. They’ll still be soldiering on long after the 2013 stats have been spun. I’m reservedly optimistic about the exercise, but I’ve heard some plans for promoting the event that have me cringing. Thankfully there are umpteen festivals of distinction around the country, populated by a cohort of colourful characters who are capable of keeping even the most excruciating of cousins cushty.
STOOD UP BY MICKY
I wouldn’t be used to rubbing shoulders (or anything else) with politicians, but Minister Ring seemed a sociable sort and when I told him I was off to Westport for Rolling Sun Literary Festival, he suggested I meet him in Matt Mollys for a pint. It would have been rude to refuse. I may have been too early, but there was no sign of the minister in the house when I landed up. There I was at the bar in Co Mayo in the somewhat awkward position of being stood up by a Micky Ring. How much mileage can I get from that particular entendre? Much more than I can get without one supposedly. He was right though, Westport is a lovely town; officially the best place to live in Ireland he told me, more than once.
A literary festival by Clew Bay was just the kind of thing I needed to help rein in the cheap smutty jokes. It’s done wonders. Mike Scott read from his recently published book and his Buachaillí Uisce buddy Steve Wickham was in town to lend a hand with a tune or two.
Maeve Higgins was also in town to share stories and bits from her new publication. She was on top form and her reading/performance was personal, warm, funny, touching and thoughtful. She may just be the anti-Piers Morgan.
SECRET SUNDAY SHAME
There follows a confession of sorts.
I indulged a fetish last weekend. Nothing as interesting as Max Mosley in a bunga bunga bunker unfortunately. My name is Mark and I like listening to Sunday Miscellany on RTE Radio 1. I’m out. I refer to it as S&M. That and mixed olive tapenade are my Achilles’ heel in the continuing struggle against middle-class aspiration. If they’d had canapés at the live recording of S&M in Westport last Sunday, I would have had to flagellate myself with a Tommy Hilfiger catalogue to purge the guilt. Thank God for Dublin Burlesque Festival this weekend; it’s an essential part of a balanced festival diet.
Safe travels, don’t die.