Tall ships, short breaths, long stems


As the bank holiday weekend approaches, a rare and somewhat unexpected phenomenon has hit Ireland. 

Commonly known as 'sunshine', this naturally occurring weather condition has been spotted across the country and according to the experts, is set to remain with us into next week.

To coincide with the sun's belated appearance, a number of festivals and sporting events are taking place. These include Bloom, which opened yesterday in the Phoenix Park and continues over the weekend, the Flora Women's Mini-Marathon and the Maritime Festival which takes place in Dublin's Docklands.

Among the many sights on show at Bloom, which has already attracted thousands of people, is a replica of Michelle Obama's White House vegetable garden. This year, the festival also has an extended floral marquee, outdoor and indoor exhibition spaces, lectures and playgrounds. Motorists are advised that the Ashtown Gate entrance to the Phoenix Park will be closed each day from 10am until 6pm. However, a courtesy shuttle bus will be available from Heuston Station to Bloom and back throughout the day.

Visitors to the Maritime Festival will be able to climb aboard a number of tall ships including the Atlantis, Lord Nelson, Le Aoife , Kathleen & May, The Loth Lorienand The Eendracht. For land lubbers there will be free entertainment along the quaysides and an outdoor summer market.

Beyonce appears at the O2 this evening and tomorrow night and concert-goers are advised that a shuttle bus will be in operation at Eden Quay, Connolly Station and St Stephen's Green. Other music-related events happening this weekend include Galway Volvo Ocean Race Festival which features Sharon Shannon and The Coronas and Life Festival at Ballinlough Castle, Athboy, Co Meath, which is headlined by Future Sound of London and Carl Craig. Elsewhere, Antony and the Johnsons appear at Vicar Street in Dublin and at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.

Kilkenny will host the internationally renowned Carlsberg Cat Laughs festival, which attracts more than 30,000 visitors to the Marble City every June. Events kicked off last night and will continue until Monday, with some 62 comedians performing 86 shows at city venues.

Old favourites on the bill this weekend include Barry Murphy, Tommy Tiernan, Dom Irrera, Rich Hall and Des Bishop.

In Co Clare, the Iniscealtra Arts Festival in Mountshannon continues over the next few days while the Balscadden Tractor Run on Sunday, will see a host of vehicles travelling through Balbriggan and onto Julianstown in order to raise money for charity.

Meanwhile the RDS plays host to both the Womans World exhibition and the FCI European Winners Dog Show. Motorists are advised to expect delays.

On the sporting front, all eyes will be facing towards South Africa where the Lions Tour gets underway but closer to home there's plenty on as well including action from the League of Ireland and the GAA Championship.

Up to 10,000 athletes are expected to take to the streets of Cork on Bank Holiday Monday for the Bord Gáis Energy Cork City Marathon. In Dublin the 27th Flora Women's Mini Marathon is expected to attract over 40,000 entrants.

A number of roads will be closed from 6am onwards to facilitate the race including St Stephens Green, Earlsfort Terrace. Lower Leeson Street, Hatch Street, Fitzwilliam Place, Merrion Square, Fitzwilliam Street, Kildare Street and on Nutley Lane.

Traffic diversions will also be in place on Mount Street, Northumberland Road, Lansdowne Road, Pembroke Road, Merrion Road and on the N11/Stillorgan Road from Belfield to Donnybrook, Donnybrook village, Morehampton Road and Leeson Street.