Big crowds hit festivals for weekend celebration of sunshine


BLUE SKIES and soaring temperatures brought close to 70,000 people to the Dublin Docklands Maritime Festival over the weekend, according to the event's organisers.

More big crowds are expected today despite a possible change in weather conditions.

According to Met Éireann forecaster Michael Cleary, this weekend was a "mixed bag", with nearly all parts of Ireland experiencing temperatures of between 20 degrees and 24 degrees.The mixed weather is expected to continue today, with the possibility of more extreme weather conditions heading eastwards across the country.

Yesterday afternoon, Dublin's Seán O'Casey bridge was crowded with people enjoying the open air festivities.

Organisers of the maritime festival expect close to 100,000 visitors by the end of today.

At Dublin's Phoenix Park, the gardening festival Bloom - which concludes today - is boasting attendance figures of 60,000 this year.

The event, which closes at 6pm this evening, has been described by President Mary McAleese as "the catwalk of Irish horticulture".

Other commentators have described the festival as "the Celtic Chelsea".

Some 30 gardens were designed for the event, which is only in its second year and costs over €2 million to stage.

There was no repeat of last year's traffic congestion which was partly caused by underestimating the number of visitors. A second car park was also opened this year, easing entry to the 70-acre site. A garden designed by Paul Doyle of Rathgar won the overall prize in the Large Garden category.

Irish gardening expert Gerry Daly said there were at least four gardens on display there which could hold their place at any show in Europe.

One visitor from Northern Ireland, Bernice Wilson from Bangor, Co Down who described herself as a serial garden-festival viewer, said: "There are a few gardens here that should not have been let in at all but you get that everywhere except Chelsea."

She added the atmosphere at Bloom was much more relaxed than at the English festival.

Chief executive of Bord Bia, Aiden Cotter, said that horticulture, which is the responsibility of the food board, was worth €2.2 billion annually.

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Ireland's finest comics took on the rest of the world in heated kick-about at the Cat Laughs comedy festival in the Marble City yesterday, writes Dara deFaoite.

The 14th annual Cat Laughs event, which closes today, featured more than 100 shows by 70 comedians in pubs and venues across Kilkenny.

Tommy Tiernan, who upset some festival-goers with a joke about missing three-year-old Madeleine McCann on Saturday, put on an extra show last night to the delight of his fans.

Up to 30,000 comedy fans made the trip to Kilkenny for the five-day laugh festival, which has been lauded as a great success.

"Comedians love playing here, they treat it like a playground and the fans have been absolutely brilliant," said Cat Laughs' producer Lynn Cahill.


Up to 20,000 revellers enjoyed a free music festival in Bandon, Co Cork, over the weekend, with headline acts including Meteor Award winners The Blizzards, chart toppers The Republic of Loose and Dublin band the Delorentos, writes Olivia Kelleher.

A mix of contemporary, trad and rock, the Bandon Music Festival has deservedly carved out a reputation for being one of the best festivals in the country. In Co Cork, more than 1,000 rowers departed from Crosshaven's Royal Yacht Club on Saturday morning as part of the fourth annual Ocean to City boat race.


More than 5,000 rock fans started the long trek home last night as the first of the summer's open-air music weekends, the Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival, came to an end after four days in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, writes Paddy Clancy.

Gardaí said that up to last evening there were six public order arrests and 10 drugs arrests, mainly for possession of cannabis, during the weekend.

More than 25 bands took to stages in a combination of free street and pub concerts as well as paid theatre shows to entertain fans from as far away as Australia and the US as well as from across Europe.

Headline group was the Julian Sas Band from the Netherlands. At the outset of the festival, the seventh successive one in the town where rock guitarist Gallagher was born 60 years ago, the local council honoured him with a posthumous Freedom of Ballyshannon.