Skyfest lifts the gloom in Waterford


AT HOME:SKYFEST, WATERFORD: The backdrop of the long silent Odlum grain silos may have been symbolic of the glum times in which we live but the mood of Saturday night’s Skyfest was thankfully bright and cheery.

Thousands thronged the quaysides in Waterford to watch the fireworks spectacular.

Waterford has experienced perhaps more than its share of grim news on the employment front since Christmas but the National Lottery-sponsored St Patrick’s Festival event seemed to put a smile on most faces with the organisers estimating the crowd at 70,000.

Ireland’s win over Scotland in Edinburgh had helped set the tone for the night and the buoyant mood was maintained with some stirring traditional airs from Kila and thunderous local percussion outfit, Torann.

With the evening sky deepening over Ferrybank to a velvety navy, it was the fireworks display itself which ultimately lifted the crowd, as people of all ages gathered to enjoy the 20-minute pyrotechnics performance by the Anglo-Irish- Dubai consortium, Pains Fireworks.

The British-based outfit didn’t disappoint, firing off over 2.5 tonnes of fireworks in 4,000 projectiles high above the River Suir, all the way from Rice Bridge downstream past the Odlum silos and the spire of the Sacred Heart Church to the tower of St Mary’s Abbey.

Firecrackers fizzed, rockets screeched and puff-balls exploded, drizzling down in an array of resplendent arcs and veils to be reflected in the rippling water as flames burned briefly on the ghostly shadows of the firing pontoons.

Emer Delaney from Ballinamona was hugely impressed as was her six-year-old son, Thomas, as they watched from the boardwalk on the South Quays.

“It really is spectacular. Thomas is loving it even though he thought at first they were going to come down on top of us,” she said.

For Mark McCabe from Greystones and his fiancée, Joanna Hammond, the event was something special. Mr McCabe, who is employed by RTÉ, had provided the pulsating background score for this and the previous four Skyfests but this was the first that he had actually seen live.

“It’s a great way to dispel the recessionary blues,” he said.

This being Waterford and the fireworks being launched across in Ferrybank which borders a certain Black and Amber-clad county, the clash of the ash was sure to get a mention at some stage of the evening.

It was local Fine Gael councillor Hilary Quinlan who provided the quip of the night as, nodding admiringly at the explosive sky display, he recalled recent events in Walsh Park. “And we only beat Kilkenny in the league, imagine what it’d be like if we beat them in an All-Ireland!”


LIMERICK BAND PARADE: Up to 30,000 spectators lined the streets of Limerick yesterday where Sammy Benson’s Brass and Reed band scooped the top prize at the Limerick International Band Parade.

The Irish Army Band led the parade which kicked off the city’s St Patrick’s Festival.

Sammy Benson’s Brass and Reed Band from Limerick have taken part in the competition for the last 35 years but this is the first year they have been crowned parade champions.

“I’m over the moon, we’re all thrilled,” said a delighted Sammy Benson.

“We’ve taken part for so many years and love performing for the crowds, but to take home the top prize is extra special,” he added.

The well-known band joined nine other marching bands that took part in the parade including the Adrian Wilcox High School Band, “The Black and Gold Regime” from Santa Clara, California who took home the Best International Band award.

Limerick City Rhythm won the most entertaining performance category while the Tallaght Youth Band won Best Irish Band.

More than 3,000 participants will take part in the Limerick St Patrick’s Day parade tomorrow.