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Author Susan McKay opened last year's Scariff Harbour Festival. This year's event is cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Photograph: Arthur Ellis.

Scariff Harbour Festival cancelled due to pandemic restrictions

THERE has been a further blow to the county’s calendar of summer events, with confirmation in recent days that the annual Scariff Harbour Festival will not go ahead this year.

The news follows the cancellation of a number of high-profile events, including the Willie Clancy Summer School, Spancilhill Fair, the Feakle Festival and more, and is in line with government recommendations and Covid-19 restrictions.

The Waterways Ireland-sponsored festival, scheduled for the August Bank holiday week-end, is internationally regarded for the quality of its contributors, drawing key-note speakers, entertainers and performers of renown. The event, which was to have marked its 18th year, also showcased key attractions in East Clare and offered a host of free outdoor music, walks, talks, guest speakers, boat tours and children’s entertainment, making it a social highlight and a key driver for the local economy.

“It is a huge disappointment for the community, festival-goers and the organising committee that this year’s festival cannot happen,” said Chairman, Mike Rodgers. “We looked into every possible angle to try and find a way in which even some elements of the festival might happen, but the safety of people was our top priority and determined the final outcome.”

According to Harry O’Meara, who has been on the Festival Committee since its inception, the Scariff Harbour Festival has built up a very credible reputation over close on two decades. “It is with a huge sense of regret that we had to reach this decision,” he said. “The festival has attracted many people from all over Clare and beyond including people native to East Clare who are now living elsewhere in Ireland or abroad. The risks associated with such a gathering are simply too high.”

Despite the resultant break in the up to now unbroken sequence of festivals, the committee has promised to put its shoulder to the wheel in planning the Festival’s return in 2021.

Separately, in Tulla, Féile Cnoc na Gaoithe, the Tulla Traditional Music Festival, which had been due to get under way at the end of next week has been called over the Covid-19 restrictions. Organisers said they are hopeful of running some key events in October and that details will be made available in due course. The festival would have been all the more significant this year as Tulla marks 1400 years since its foundation.

In Mountshannon, where the annual Arts Festival was due to open on May 22, the programme has been revised so that some key elements can be broadcast on community radio. More information is available on the Mountshannon Arts Festival Facebook page and on mountshannonarts.net.


About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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