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Sandra and John Lefroy with their river boat Phoenix about which there will be a talk at the festival. It is hoped the boat will be present too. Picture: Arthur Ellis.

Killaloe’s Lua Festival celebrates relationship with water

Champion Chatter

KILLALOE has been lauded as a crucial hub along the River Shannon by a well-known senior waterways manager.

Speaking at a media event to preview the Lua End of Season Celebration in Killaloe this weekend, Waterways Ireland regional manager, Eanna Rowe said the future development of this hub is outlined in the Shannon Tourism Masterplan, which was completed by Waterways Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and officials in ten local authorities.

“One of the best ways of putting places like Killaloe on the shop window is through festivals like Lua. Waterways Ireland are delighted to support the Lua Festival.

“This is in addition to the bricks and mortar development work we carry out as well. It is great to see Lua getting off the ground at last. Covid-19 got in the way previously. Hopefully this festival will go from strength to strength.”

Mr Rowe said it is great to see so many elements of the waterside and waterways community coming together in one festival.

With a membership of 3,500 in the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI), Lough Derg branch chairman Matt Daniels said the organisation is very passionate about keeping the waterways open.

Mr Daniels said the branch is promoting this festival throughout the IWAI network and amongst local boat owners who are really looking forward to it.

“Lua is a fantastic festival to celebrate the lake. To see the boats coming down into Killaloe and waving them off at the end of the festival will be lovely.”

One of the main organisers, Rev Paul Fitzpatrick hopes this inaugural event will grow and develop into an annual celebration, marking the end of the season.

The Dean’s Vicar of Killaloe and Stradbally Group of Parishes has extended hospitality of the Vestry Committee and the extraordinary ambience of Killaloe to all visitors.

“In Killaloe and its environs, we have historically, ecologically and environmentally, the waterways are a ‘jewel in our midst’. St Flannan’s Cathedral is synonymous with the waterways.

“LUA is a weekend event to explore this evolving engagement with wild water and how best to individually and collectively irrigate a more beneficial relationship with it, both culturally and environmentally.

“The Lua Festival will complement other events such as Quest Lough Derg, the Killaloe Music Festival, the Brian Ború Festival and many other events.”

He thanked the collaborative approach that has been undertaken by all the key stakeholders such as Clare County Council, Waterways Ireland, Killaloe Gardai and the IWAI to make the festival a success.

He said St Flannan’s Cathedral is now trying to showcase this historic 13th century visitor attraction and place of worship with the local, national and international market.

On Friday, September 16, the Lough Derg Branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland IWAI will host its end of season celebration with commodores, John and Sandra Lefroy and Matt Daniels.

The guest of honour will be Clare County Council chairman, Councillor Tony O’ Brien, who will officially launch the festival at the Cathedral Field after opening the first Lua Art Exhibition in St Flannan’s Cathedral on Friday at 6pm.

Featuring both amateur and professional artists from the locality, this inaugural exhibition is organised by Trish Taylor Thompson, who used to live in Killaloe before she moved to Terryglass.

The art exhibition, which runs for the entire weekend, will feature almost 50 artists from the region who have been inspired by the waterways of the River Shannon and Lough Derg not to mention the abundant wildlife that frequents the shores of Killaloe’s hinterland and waterways.

“There is no end to the artistic talent in Killaloe and the surrounding region,” said Ms Thompson.

“From painters to sculptors to photographers, the art works that will be on display are both individual and inspirational.

“Some beautiful works have come in already for the exhibition. Whatever event is happening always involves an artistic element because people have a huge appetite for this cultural expression.

“We have got a great response from artists who have taken on board the theme of waterways such as a waterfall, boat or wave. Each artwork is a masterpiece in itself,” she said.

Joe Furlong, who is organising the display of classic cars in Killaloe at the Cathedral Field on Friday at 6.30pm, said he became aware that many people in the area have beautiful classic and vintage cars since St Patrick’ Day.

Refreshments will be provided on Friday evening by Ray Hogan from Hogan Catering.

Norma Manly and band will perform a concert of jazz, blues and her own contemporary work in St Flannan’s Cathedral at 8pm.

Rev Fitzpatrick said Ms Manly has generously given up her time to showcase her singing talent on three or four occasions free of charge.

Gary McMahon Director, Ak llen, will deliver a presentation on sailing in Irish and international waters for over a century in St Flannan’s Cathedral on Saturday, September 17 at 12 noon.

Comprehensive information about about the Bells of Saint Flannan’s Cathedral will be provided by Martin Cooper at 3pm.

It is expected the contribution made by local bell ringers Bryan and Betty Brislane will be acknowledged during this talk.

Mr Brislane said Killaloe is a wonderful place and St Flannan’s is a wonderful building, which is the key visitor attraction in the town.

“Killaloe a musical celebration” will be presented by Mary Donohue, Paul Fitzpatrick and friends at 8pm.

They include the Bugs Bradshaw Group who perform regularly in Castleconnell with musicians from Killaloe and Ballina, fiddle duo Paula O’Regan, Broadford and Mary Donohue, a harmonic trio from the Jordan family, whose children won the U-12, U-15 and U-18 All-Ireland titles at the Fleadh in Mullingar earlier this year.

These musicians will also be joined by Cailín Lua, from Killaloe and Bunratty, who have returned from a three-month tour in Florida playing Irish traditional music and folk songs.

Ms Donohue thanked Rev Fitzpatrick for organising the Sunday Sessions in St Flannan’s Cathedral, which broadcast music on line to people in their homes during the Covid-19 lockdown.

All the proceeds from this event will go to the Killaloe Coast Guard Unit, RNLI and Killaloe Fire and Rescue Services.

Tai chi by the waterside will be provided by Caroline Rainsford from 9am to 10am on Sunday, September 19 from 9am to 10am. This session is free and is suitable for all abilities.

Ms Rainsford, who teaches tai chi in Nenagh, said there is a great interest in this activity, which is very good for flexibility and relaxation.

An Ecumenical Service will take place in Saint Flannan’s Cathedral at 11.30, which will involve an official Blessing of the Waterways and Environment.

This will be followed by a presentation about the “Phoenix” by Sandra and John Lefroy. Ms Lefroy hopes the “Phoenix” will be in Killaloe next Sunday.

“Killaloe is a super place. It has got everything. It is very accessible to other locations by water or road. The Phoenix celebrates her 150 years launching birthday next June. She was laid down in 1872 and launched in 1873. We have her history all the way through, which is very special.

“We lived on board for a long time on the Phoenix, we raised our children and dogs and it has formed our lives.”

The closing celebration will be hosted by the Lough Derg Branch IWAI.

Local artist, Katherine Griffith has created a unique memento including an image of St Flannan’s Cathedral, the Phoenix, Waterways Ireland, Killaloe Coast Guard, the RNLI and the Ilen and the emblem of the Lough Derg Branch of Inland Waterways Association of Ireland.

While this memento will be provided to attendees free of charge, people will have the option of making a donation that will be divided between the Coast Guard and emergency services.

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