Festival Fit


Three festivals every week for a year. MARK GRAHAMsamples some va-va-voom in Valentia

DAS KAPITAL is in the throes of it’s festival month. The Theatre and Fringe festivals are throwing up more culture than a bulimic with a particularly strong gag reflex on the tail end of a three-day Yop binge. Joyce, Murphy, Wilde, Shakespeare, Nee, rabbits, pop, rockeroke and flatpack opera were all up for grabs. I choose to go expand my cultural horizons by spending an evening in the company of a talented shower of Aussie and Samoan transvestites who populated the show Briefs. The smut- and double-entendre-laden banter suited me just fine, my brow is so low that it provides much needed arch support whilst also keeping my toes warm in winter.


Try to imagine what Fossett’s Circus would be like if a crowd of talented queens hijacked it, skinned and plucked the animals to make fabulous costumes and then proceeded to master all the tricks in the ring. The performers were more camp than the small village on the Dingle Peninsula, but they were as skilled in their various art forms as they were well groomed. Acrobatics, plate spinning, hula-hooping and feats of strength that impressed even more than the ring-master’s costume changes (of course they had a ring master). This was a fun night out and I now know what a gongle-pouch resembles when squeezed between the legs, pushed backwards and viewed from behind. Do you remember lolo balls? Try to imagine a veiny, hairy one poking out from underneath a boy-lesque performer’s bottom. As educational as it was disturbing. I don’t know why, but male nudity and scrotums reared their heads a couple of times last week.


Valentia Isle Festival was the destination last Friday. Wanderly Wagon gave up the ghost in Cahersiveen forcing an unscheduled night out in the village. Thankfully the crew in McCarthy’s garage and Cha’s Bar kept the show on the road. It was Saturday lunchtime when the hand-brake was pulled up on Valentia and it was immediately clear that this was a special setting for a festival. The atmosphere was low-key and more laidback than a Xanax-sponsored limbo dancer.

It was ambitious to take on a three-day festival straight out of the traps and the Sunday-night crowd thinned considerably. Saturday night was rocking though. Delorentos, Rubberbandits and a Bucky-fuelled Toby Kaar banging out beats were just some of the highlights, but it was in the “Hearts Content” marquee that some real homespun madness was on display. There was a demented trad trio whipping an already frothing crowd into a frenzy. The Latchicos belted out the refrain “his ball-bag swinging like a church bell ringing” and the crowd took it up as they buck lepped around the tent doing the horse dance. There was steam coming off bald men’s heads. There was a mud-covered girl throwing interpretive dance shapes and an amorous couple on the plank bench involved in what can only be described in these pages as “heavy petting”. It was difficult to decide where to look in the midst of this circus of psychosis.

The chief lunatic skipped over to apologise for kicking some mud around. “I’d say you’ve had a few pints,” I said to the chirpy chap caked in mud after some inspired sean nós break dancing. “Not at all,” says he. “I’m a pioneer”. True lunacy needs no lubrication.

The next morning Captain Dan offered the sick and infirm the recipe for seagull and cabbage. Bubble and squawk. As they say in Kerry – some racket!

I’m expecting things to be a little more sedate in Dunderry Co Meath this weekend at the Spirit of Folk Festival, but if I’ve learned anything while attending the festivals of Ireland, it’s that things rarely seem to go as I expect them to.

Safe travels, dont die.