Festival fever takes over from Cork to Donegal


THOUSANDS OF revellers have packed festivals taking place across the State this bank holiday weekend.

Despite overcast conditions and occasional showers, organisers of many festivals offering music, art, comedy, dance and pageantry have reported big crowds.

Just outside Mitchelstown, Co Cork, the Indiependence Music and Arts Festival welcomed almost 5,000 through its gates.

Musical acts such as the Coronas, Editors, Ham Sandwich and Ash were joined at the Deer Farm site by comedy performers including Joe Rooney and Fred Cooke.

“There has been a brilliant atmosphere all weekend,” said festival organiser Shane Dunne.

“There has been a good crowd – a little older than most festivals with some families coming too – so it’s a nice vibe, very chilled out.

“The weather has been good; [rain] was threatening but never came, apart from some warm mist.”

The Joe Dolan Festival brought loyal fans of the late entertainer to Mullingar, Co Westmeath, for a series of shows.

A highlight was the Reunion Show featuring a large screen playing a video of a classic Dolan performance accompanied by a live band.

John Cochrane, manager of the local Greville Arms Hotel, where many of the activities took place, described the weekend as a “massive success”.

“The reunion shows sold out both nights [Friday and Saturday] and they had to hold an extra showing of The Night Joe Dolan’s Car Broke Downbecause tickets sold out so quickly.”

A huge crowd also turned out for the impersonator contest, according to Mr Cochrane, where 10 Dolan lookalikes took part.

“Some of them came in the full white suits and shirt and shoes and all. There was a great atmosphere.”

In neighbouring Co Offaly, the big event of the weekend was the Castlepalooza Music and Arts Festival, where performers included Naughty by Nature, Jape, the Kanyu Tree and Le Galaxie.

Held at Charleville Castle in Tullamore, the festival was promoted as “the best little music festival in Ireland”.

Festival volunteer Terry Dale said the site was “very close” to its 2,500 capacity for the weekend.

“It was choc-a-bloc with campers. It was still comfortable and everything but we were definitely very close to capacity.”

Ms Dale said people had come to enjoy more than just the concerts with African drumming, hula hoops, hip-hop and burlesque workshops on offer as well as graffiti walls for artists to decorate.

“There was a little dusting of rain but nothing to ruin the atmosphere,” she added. “It was a very happy eclectic atmosphere, with a few different stages playing different types of music.”

In the southeast, some fans of US rapper Flo Rida were disappointed when the artist failed to show at the Waterford Music Festival.

Fellow hip-hop star 50 Cent did perform, however, joining singer Shayne Ward and others at the Waterford RSC venue.

In Donegal, the 44th Mary from Dungloe International Festival was taking place, born from the old ballad of the same name.

The Irish music festival is centred on a pageant to find out who has the spirit of the festival. The winner is crowned “Mary from Dungloe”.

Although no exact figure was available for the number of people who attended the festival’s events, organisers said it was “easily in the thousands”.

Taking part in the pageant this year was Maria Ní Dhónaill, an NUIG arts graduate and the 2011 “Gaeltacht Mary”.

“It’s been really good, it’s a wee bit like the Rose of Tralee,” she said. “The pubs are packed at night and there has been a lot of families around during the day and music on the streets.”

There was also music on the streets in Co Kerry, where the Dan Paddy Andy Festival 2011 attracted an estimated 500 people.

Although the festival celebrates one of Ireland’s last great matchmakers, it is not itself a matchmaking festival.

“An odd romance or two have formed at it over the years but it is more of a dance festival,” said festival chairman Joe Harrington.

It is hosted by the parish of Lyreacrompane between the towns of Castleisland and Listowel. Mr Harrington

described it as a “rural festival”, saying it “couldn’t get any further away [from towns] and still be on land”.

Entertainment included open-air platform and marquee dancing as well as bog walks and storytelling.

Other festivals taking place over the weekend included the Lughnasa and Scariff Harbour festivals in Co Clare, the American and Roots Weekend in Co Wicklow and the Caherciveen Festival of Music and the Arts in Co Kerry.