Three festivals every week for a year. MARK GRAHAMgoes nuts in Kilkenny
BANK holiday weekends are driving me demented. My FOMO is ordinarily at levels that have me chasing an imaginary tail, but ahead of weekends like this, my Fear Of Missing Out is debilitating. I’ve done the Jazz in Cork to death, and unless you booked a room when Ray Houghton scored against England, you’ll be shacked up on the outskirts mbaile na Be Bop.
This year, that’d perfect, they’re running a Fringe Jazz Festival in picturesque Kinsale. Tunes and tuna, ideal! Sligo Live will have the northwest hopping, Savour Kilkenny will have visitors salivating, the inaugural Bram Stoker Festival in Dublin will have people popping out for a different type of bite, and there’s a horde of Halloween horrors to be enjoyed all over the country (Zombie Zumba at Fright Fest in Tramore being my current favourite). No wonder I’m driven to distraction. Hunter’s Moon Festival in Carrick-on- Shannon is going to offer up some psych, drone and experimental sounds (let me remind you that this is near where last week’s mushroom festival took place. Just sayin’). I want in!
Fading Light in Caherdaniel Co Kerry would be my top festival tip for the weekend. Little xs for Eyes, yoga on the beach and surfing to the sound of a band called Carried by Waves. I’d be all over it if I didn’t have some serious business to take care of elsewhere.
CONKERS AT DAWN
Have I ever told you I’m the current All Ireland Conker Champion? Similarly to Dickie Rock and his charity work, I don’t like to talk about it. The time has come to defend my title. There is going to be some hardcore Highlander shit going down in Freshford Co Kilkenny this Sunday. Some people go to the Conker Championships to have fun, but beneath the jovial façade is grim determination; those Kilkenny folk take championships very seriously.
The shinpads at registration are the first sign of what is to come. “Ah don’t be worrying about them, they’re only for wusses” says the fella from the county where they feed babies hurleys instead of Farley’s Rusks. I wasn’t sure what he meant until I got into the practice ring for a few swings. Ow-ah! Elbow, arm, knee and gongle-pouch are all areas prone to receiving the brunt of a misfired swing. I can’t remember the conkers of my childhood being an extreme sport.
There was €500, a crown and an all-Ireland winner’s medal at stake last year. I was delighted to take all three back over the bridge to The Deise. I’m hoping to do the same this year but Paddy Power has me at 75/1.
THE TWO SIDES OF JINX
Before I go conquering, I’ll be making my lowest common denominator festival approach a little less common by soaking up some more theatre and exhibitions at Imagine Arts Festival Waterford. Dissident by Pat Daly is still running tonight and tomorrow, you’ll be lucky if there are tickets left, but it’s worth a shot.
Metal and Ink Fantasia is an exhibition of much prettiness that’s worth a look. To keep my brow height in check, I caught Jinx Lennon last weekend. Pinch of Lee Scratch Perry, dash of Pat McCabe, tablespoon of Chuck D, shot of Christy Moore, essence of Flann O’Brien and moments that throw the audience violently from outbreaks of unsure hilarity into the headlights of piercing honesty. I never know with Jinx whether I should be laughing or not, songs about Christian brothers being tortured by Black and Decker tools tend to have two sides.
To celebrate Halloween, I’m going to be over-nighting with a medium and a couple of other eejits in Ireland’s most haunted pub. I’m planking it, the place is proper creepy. Whatever happens, there will be contact made with spirits. We should probably have ordered a large instead of a medium. Expect the Blair Witch lock-in next week . . . hopefully.
Safe travels, don’t die.