HIGH King of Ireland Brian Boru, who ruled from Killaloe, could be the central theme of a major international festival next year.
The Clare Tourism Forum presented a strong case to the Milwaukee Irish Fest for the inclusion of Brian Boru as the central theme for the 2014 festival.
The group made the proposal at the festival last weekend, where they requested an expanded Brian Boru programme next year involving the four main hubs of Killaloe/Ballina, Cashel, Clontarf and Armagh.
This has been well received based on the success of the 2013 initiative and discussions with the festival director will continue in the coming weeks.
A very extensive programme was prepared by the forum with daily talks on genealogy, the history of Brian Boru and the Banner County, slow food cooking techniques as well as re-enactments that demonstrated the techniques of long bow making. There was also musical performances by the Kincora Traditional Music group.
The group had an opportunity to discuss with Tourism Minister Michaél Ring, the Consul General and Tourism Ireland the importance of national support for a major cultural international festival celebrating 1,000 years since the death of Brian Boru.
According to forum vice-chair and director of services, Ger Dollard, the extensive and varied programme was very well received and members were somewhat surprised at the extent of interest in Brian Boru and the many visitors that had read Morgan Llewellyn’s book on Brian Boru.
“The real benefit of the fest is that the attendance have a distinct interest in Ireland and in travelling here or coming back on a repeat visit. The forum’s objective was to sell the benefits of travelling through Shannon International Airport and the exceptional benefits of including County Clare in their itinerary.
“There is no doubt that a Clare presence at the festival does help to influence people’s decisions on where they might visit when coming to Ireland and it will pay dividends into the future.
“The forum are very pleased to see the considerable success of the new flights to Chicago and Philadelphia and want to continue to work in supporting these routes and hopefully see them in place for longer duration in the coming years,” he said.
Mayor of Clare Joe Arkins, who represented Clare Comhaltas Ceoiltóirí Éireann said the forum presentation was very successful with an estimated audience of 140,000 people.
Councillor Arkins said the group put Killaloe firmly on the map for tourists by emphasising the fact that Brian Boru chose to rule Ireland from Kincora.
According to national tourism figures, about 600,000 visitors come to Clare annually where they spend an estimated €140 million. Councillor Arkins explained the forum used the fest to highlight the easy access to Shannon Airport with direct flights from US cities and noted the region was promoted as the ideal base for tourists to enjoy attractions in Lough Derg, Loop Head, Bunratty Castle, the Cliffs of Moher and other locations throughout Clare.
With over 4,200 volunteers helping to organise the festival, Councillor Arkins said he was “blown away” by their civic spirit of volunteerism. He was also struck by how proud people who attended the fest were of their Irish roots and their wish to foster and develop this strong bond with Ireland.
“It behoves Clare people to play their part in ensuring that the county’s trade, commerce and tourism interests are well represented at this fest. Overall, I believe it was very successful from a Clare perspective and will reap dividends over the coming years,” he said.
The Clare tourism delegation was located in the festival’s destinations’ area and the Milwaukee Irish Fest agreed to fund the costs associated with nine of the group, which Mr Dollard thinks indicates the significance the organisers place on the initiative. On Wednesday evening, the group headed to Gaelic Park in Chicago to do a formal tourism presentation to the Chicago Clare Association and to meet the Clare diaspora.
The Clare delegation was accompanied in Wisconsin by Kincora Traditional Music Group, Clare Tourist Council, genealogist Jane Halloran Ryan, Burren Smoke House, Old Ground Hotel, Kilrush Town Council, flute player and Kincora School of Music founder Paul Smyth, Jack Pinson from Clare-based CELT, Kincora Heritage Society founder Una Kierse, Killaloe singer and mucisian Deirdre Scanlan and former senior All-Ireland Oireachtas fiddle champion, Paul O’Regan.