THE East Clare village of Bodyke remains on a high this week following the success of its first ever festival, which drew up to 1,000 people.
The Bodyke Gathering saw an estimated 1,000 people come through the village over the May Bank Holiday weekend to take part in the various events organised.
“It was absolutely beyond our wildest dreams. It went exceptionally well. We are here nine years and we never saw the likes of it.
“I wasn’t here at the time of the Bodyke evictions stone, which President Hillary unveiled, but the people are saying the gathering at that wasn’t half of what we had here,” according to Susan McMahon of the organising committee.
Chairperson of the Bodyke Gathering Committee, Colm Wiley said, “There was up to 1,000 people in Bodyke over the weekend. We had a great turnout.”
Ms McMahon said among the highlights were the sporting events organised on Sunday at the GAA field. She described the response as “phenomenal”.
The event’s launch with Ger Loughnane was also extremely well received. Mr Loughnane spoke about his career, working with Bodyke All-Star Liam Doyle and he also touched on his own health issues.
Traditional music sessions with Jennifer Lenihan, Seamus Bugler, young local musicians and Pat O’Neill, storytelling with Des Mulcaire and a magic show drew large crowds.
However, the icing on the cake for many of those who attended, including those who travelled from all over the country to get back to their roots, was the talk given on the Bodyke evictions.
“It was incredible. It was raining on the day but nevertheless the piper led the congregation up to the evictions stone. John S Kelly is a retired principal from Scariff and historian and he had a full display set up with old documents from the evictions.
“The pub lounge was choc-a-block. That went on for over an hour and people were glued to it. It’s only when something like this happens that you realise what is on your doorstep. The history in this area is incredible,” Susan concluded.
The festival has given the locals food for thought and with such a huge response, it is likely they will be assessing running a similar event again in the near future.