OVER 60 businesses in the twin communities of Ballina and Killaloe have supported the biggest line-up of family fun-filled events for the eagerly-awaited Féile Brian Boru Festival.
Local traders are anticipating a major boost in their tills over the coming days as people from the Mid-West flock to the lakeside town for an action-packed programme.
Speaking at the official launch of the festival in the Lakeside Hotel, Ballina, Killaloe on Thursday night, committee chairman, John Grimes confirmed the support they received on a local level was phenomenal.
“The 2011 programme of events is the biggest yet. Féile Brian Boru 2011 is another milestone on the road to the build-up to the millennium celebrations in 2014,” he said.
Speaking to The Clare Champion, Mr Grimes said over 100 young Irish dancers took part in the feis in the Lakeside Hotel on Sunday. They included entrants from Cork, Dublin and one from the United States of America.
He said initiatives such as the Arts Trail brought a great buzz of anticipation in the two communities as local artists exhibited their work on the windows of local businesses.
Welcoming the provision of a new walkway along the canal on the Scariff Road side, he pointed out this would provide an extra vantage point for people who want to watch the canoe polo this year.
He said the festival committee has received great support from a variety of community and statutory organisations, such as Clare and North Tipperary county councils, Killaloe/Ballina Family Resource Centre, Waterways Ireland, St Anne’s Community College, the Killaloe Ballina Irish Coast Guard Unit and the University of Limerick Activity Centre.
A number of charities will benefit from the line-up. The proceeds from the Dragon Boat Races at Ballina Quay on Sunday at 3pm will be donated to Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin.
Half of the proceeds from Nuts for Mutts in McKeogh’s Field at 1pm on Sunday will be donated to Limerick Animal Welfare. In addition to the normal mutt, there is a pedigree section for competitive dog owners. Other categories include loveliest eyes, most ear-resistible ears, doggy x-factor and cutest puppy.
A display of animals including hawks, falcons, owls, snakes and lizards, giving people an opportunity to get up close and personal with the creatures, will be provided by Animal Magic from 12 noon to 5pm in McKeogh’s field. The fastest piglets in the Mid-West will hope their intensive programme of training will lead them to glory at 3.15pm in the same field in the piglet racing.
Alan Kelly, Minister of State, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, who officially launched the festival, said Féile Brian Boru is a great example of what a community could achieve when they worked together.
“The festival is great for the local community, the local businesses and for tourism in the area,” he said. He also complimented the committee on the programme of events, saying how good it is to see so many events being organised for people of all ages, in particular, the introduction of Féile na nÓg in 2010, which is a festival organised by young people for young people.
A group of musicians and singers, including members of East Clare Comhaltas, provided a wide variety of entertainment for the official launch.
Starting with the opening of the Brian Boru Art Trail in Wood Brothers, Killaloe on Wednesday night, over 60 different events, including Féile na nÓg, have been organised up to one of the headline acts – the visit of Sharon Shannon – live in concert at the Lakeside Hotel on Sunday night.
Now in its fourth year, up-and-coming band, Miracle Bell, who performed as one of the guest artists on Ireland’s Got Talent will be the main attraction in the pop-up playhouse, having recently supported The Coronas and Two Cinema Door Club at a recent concert.
The programme of events is now available on the committee’s website at www.feilebrianboru.killaloe.ie and programmes are available locally in the tourist office and local shops.
For further information on Féile na nÓg, log on to www.feilenanog.org.