This year’s Waterways Ireland Scariff Harbour Festival will celebrate its inland waterways link with Northern Ireland in a new launch event involving young East Clare people.
Opening this year’s festival is Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, who will arrive into the harbour by boat, joined by Dawn Livingstone the newly appointed CEO of Waterways Ireland.
In addition a flotilla, which traversed a route along the inland waterways from Enniskillen will bring young people from Clare and Northern Ireland into the marina.
The boats are due in on Friday, August 2 at 5.30pm and will bring in a group of 20 young people as part of a Northern Ireland cross-community exchange coinciding with the festival.
The line-up this year includes a host of activities on water and land and this year there is a particular focus on the core themes of the festival that have underpinned its activities since it began over 10 years ago.
These include developing relationships with Northern Ireland, the promotion of Lough Derg and the inland waterways and creating opportunities and experiences for young people to embrace, share and enjoy.
Commenting on this year’s exchange programme, festival chairman, Michael Rodgers, said, “It is clear endorsement of what the festival is trying to achieve each year and a recognition in particular of the enormous work that has already been undertaken by Emma Sams and her team at Clare Youth Service and her counterpart Tony McGaharan from Peace Players International (NI) and his team in Belfast in planning a week-long journey from Enniskillen to Scariff as part of our festival.”
Next Monday, Ms Livingstone will wave the young people off from Waterways Headquarters in Enniskillen – her first official duty at the helm of the all-Ireland inland waterways body. From there they begin their week-long adventure along the course of the Shannon engaging in activities, workshops and discussions along the way.
The youth venture has been made possible through the support of Léargas, the national agency for co-operation programmes and the reconciliation and anti-sectarian funds division of the Department of Foreign Affairs in partnership with Scariff Habour Festival, Waterways Ireland, Clare Youth Service and Peace Players International (NI).
According to Tony McGaharan from PeacePlayers International (NI), a body that aims to unite children from divided communities, the programme is “an inspiring cross-border youth initiative”.
“Through this programme, we will be bringing together young people from across the city of Belfast and connecting with young people from County Clare.
“We have no doubt that this adventure will be a positive experience for everybody,” he said.
The festival continues with further events involving the youth over the bank holiday weekend with A Game of Three Halves kicking off that weekend. The event was introduced last year by former rugby international Trevor Ringland. It combines rugby, hurling and soccer for youngsters upwards of eight years old.
For the 12-to-18 age groups, the Waterways Ireland Cross-Border Young Anglers’ Competition will be held once again for the David Ervine Perpetual Trophy.
Ryan Sheridan performs as part of a number of free open-air music events on Friday, while Damien Dempsey performs on the Fair Green on Saturday, August 3 at 10pm. Good Medicine and Connectors also play on Saturday, meanwhile at Scariff Harbour that same evening Roots by the River takes place. Scullion and The Awbeg/Five Counties Céilí Band will entertain on Sunday night.
The monster family fun day goes ahead on Saturday in the GAA Park, while Waterways Ireland boat tours operate on Sunday. Other activities happening over the weekend include walks, talks, book launch, cookery demonstration, arts, crafts, animal magic, circus acts, garden show and the selection of the Queen of the Waterways on festival closing night.