Laugh’s a beach!

SK­ER­RIES TOURISM CHAIR­MAN TERRY MCCOY TELLS JOHN MAN­NING ALL ABOUT THE FUN LAUGH­TER ON THE BEACH PROMISED BY THIS YEAR’S SK­ER­RIES MID­SUM­MER FES­TI­VAL

Fingal Independent - - NEWS SPECIAL -

A‘ BELLY laugh and lots of sea­side fun’ is what’s prom­ises at the Sk­er­ries Mid­sum­mer Fes­ti­val in June which was launched last week amid great hi­lar­ity on the beach by co­me­dian, Al Porter who head­lines the open­ing night of the four day fes­ti­val. The Sk­er­ries Mid­sum­mer Fes­ti­val has grown out of the Sk­er­ries Wa­ter Fes­ti­val to a four day fes­ti­val of fun and frolics on the beach, whether you’re un­der the sum­mer sun or in the fes­ti­val mar­quee.

Sk­er­ries Tourism is be­hind the fes­ti­val and chair­man of the lo­cal group Terry McCoy who runs the ac­claimed Sk­er­ries restau­rant, The Red Bank, sat down with the Fingal In­de­pen­dent to tell us what he and his hard work­ing fes­ti­val com­mit­tee have in store for the Sk­er­ries Mid­sum­mer fes­ti­val which comes to town from June 15 to June 18, this year.

With his tongue some­what in his cheeks, Terry tells us about some of the more noted in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors the town has wel­comed over the years as ev­i­dence there is al­ways a wel­come on the mat for vis­i­tors to the sea­side town. He said: ‘Sk­er­ries has a long tra­di­tion of tourism. If you go back far enough, we wel­comed the Vik­ings, we wel­comed St Patrick and even two Ger­man sub­marines went up on Rock­a­bill light­house in the First World War in 1916 and re­paired them­selves be­fore push­ing off again so we have a long his­tory of at­tract­ing in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors.’

Ex­plain­ing how the Sk­er­ries Mid­sum­mer Fes­ti­val came about, the Sk­er­ries man said: ‘About five years ago we re­formed Sk­er­ries tourism which had gone into abeyance. It had been there in sev­eral guises over the last 40 or 50 years ago and we res­ur­rected it and I’m the chair­man and we have a very ac­tive com­mit­tee.’

Sk­er­ries now has a string of fes­ti­vals and com­mu­nity events right through the sum­mer sea­son and ac­cord­ing to the Sk­er­ries Tourism chair­man, this was a de­lib­er­ate strat­egy to string out the town’s fes­ti­val ac­tiv­i­ties into bite-sized chunks over the sea­son.

He ex­plained: ‘We are a small com­mu­nity and we have a lim­ited amount of ac­com­mo­da­tion to let so we can’t cope with a huge fes­ti­val like the fes­ti­val in Kerry for ex­am­ple so what we de­cided to do a num­ber of years ago was to have a se­ries of smaller fes­ti­vals that would be eas­ier to man­age and don’t burst the com­mit­tee and have ev­ery­one knack­ered af­ter­wards. The Sound­waves com­mit­tee does its thing, the Tra­di­tional Mu­sic Week­end com­mit­tee do their thing and Mid­sum­mer Fes­ti­val do our thing and then you have the mo­tor­bikes fill­ing in and the GAA and Rugby Club and soc­cer club run their events and we have the An Post Ras fin­ish so you have a se­ries of events go­ing on and they are all eas­ily man­aged.’

The Sk­er­ries Tourism chair­man said it is a con­stant bat­tle to con­vince vis­i­tors to Dublin to step out be­yond the city and it is one that ev­ery­one in Sk­er­ries is tak­ing on.

He said: ‘You have to fight for tourism here and fight with the big na­tional agen­cies for recog­ni­tion that we ex­ist out here and that tourism has a place other than Tem­ple Bar in Dublin. We have to fight a lit­tle harder for at­ten­tion out here.’

The fes­ti­val opens with a mys­te­ri­ous and fun din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence called ‘ The Mys­tery Dine Around’ and who bet­ter to ex­plain it than the man be­hind one of Fingal’s finest restau­rant. Terry ex­plained the idea, say­ing: ‘ There was a book launched of Sk­er­ries recipes re­cently called ‘ The Goat’s Cheese’ and we will pick out about four in­ter­est­ing restau­rants lo­cally that supplied recipes to that book and we will asked them to do a course fea­tur­ing the recipes in the book and we’ll sell the tick­ets for maybe €30 so some­one could start here in the Red Bank and have their starter and then go down and maybe in the Rock­a­bill they might have their main course, and then the might go down to Brasco’s on the har­bour and have their dessert and then fin­ish up in the Mar­quee laugh­ing to Al Porter - so that’s the idea.’ That leads us nicely to the main event of the fes­ti­val’s open­ing night where the pop­u­lar co­me­dian and broad­caster, Al Porter takes his ir­rev­er­ent brand of com­edy to the mar­quee stage in front of an ex­pected au­di­ence of around 500.

Al helped to launch the fes­ti­val on Sk­er­ries beach last week, along­side Terry and some lo­cal chil­dren who en­joyed a few ice creams from the leg­endary Storm in a Teacup and posed for suit­ably sunny pic­tures.

Terry said Al Porter’s only other Dublin gig this year will be in Vicar Street so this will be a rare op­por­tu­nity to see him live lo­cally and should not be missed. Al is well ac­quainted with Sk­er­ries and reg­u­larly vis­ited the town as a child on a fam­ily day out.

On the sec­ond night of the fes­ti­val, things get a lit­tle more for­mal with a Black Tie Ball in the Mar­quee for 300 peo­ple and this is an event that Terry is re­ally look­ing for­ward to.

He said: ‘On the Fri­day night we are go­ing to have a Black Tie Ball and we have a bit of a tra­di­tion in do­ing that now. Last year it was a roar­ing suc­cess be­cause it al­lowed the peo­ple of Sk­er­ries to come out and cel­e­brate sum­mer and Sk­er­ries and it was just a lovely oc­ca­sion where we all chit-chat­ted and danced and boo­gies and let our hair down for the whole evening.’ Down at the seafront is where it all hap­pens on Satur­day and Sun­day start­ing on the Satur­day with what the fes­ti­val is call­ing its ‘Beach Fun Day on the South Strand’. The day will in­clude beach sports, sand­cas­tle com­pe­ti­tions and chil­dren’s events, a trea­sure hunt and a fun run. That evening, the adults are in­vited to re­live

their youth in an 80s retro night at the Mar­quee with the hugely pop­u­lar ‘Spring Break’ famed for their retro mu­sic.

On Sun­day, a lot of the events from the for­mer Sk­er­ries Wa­ter Fes­ti­val reap­pear with a dis­play form the lo­cal lifeboat he­roes of Sk­er­ries RNLI, a swim­ming race, a power boat race and a row­ing race but the un­doubted highlight of the day will be the tra­di­tional and hugely pop­u­lar Sk­er­ries Raft Race.

The fes­ti­val comes to a lively close with a free evening of tra­di­tional mu­sic at the Mar­quee on the Sun­day night.

Terry laid out his hopes for the fes­ti­val, say­ing: ‘ What it will al­low the peo­ple of Sk­er­ries to do is re­joice in their won­der­ful lo­ca­tion where they live and kind of har­vest in on that and recog­nise the sea and the sea­side and also re­joice in the fact that we won the Tidiest Town in Ire­land.

‘Fingal County Coun­cil are very much on board and are a ma­jor spon­sor of the fes­ti­val and the Pro­gres­sive Credit Union who have the Martello Tower as their logo, are very in­volved with us and they are the two ma­jor spon­sors.’ While the fes­ti­val is all about fun, ul­ti­mately Sk­er­ries Tourism are pur­su­ing a very se­ri­ous project that could trans­form the tourist of­fer­ing in the town by re­fur­bish­ing the ne­glected Martello Tower with the help of Fingal County Coun­cil, who own the build­ing.

It is hoped that the build­ing can be trans­formed into what an in­ter­pre­ta­tive cen­tre that will tell the story of St Patrick and how that story is in­ter­twined with Sk­er­ries.

Terry’s pas­sion for the town is clear and he’s lived here since 1972 when he said he left Tip­per­ary Town ‘about as far from the sea as you can get and came to Sk­er­ries to see the sea, and never went back to Tip­per­ary’.

Turn­ing the Martello Tower into a tourist at­trac­tion is a dream of his and he is burst­ing with ideas on what the build­ing could do from telling the story of St Patrick to pro­vid­ing a rooftop ob­ser­va­tory space to take ad­van­tage of the low light pol­lu­tion in Sk­er­ries to fun and ed­u­ca­tional ex­hi­bi­tions for kids fea­tur­ing lo­cal ge­ol­ogy, flora, fauna and sea crea­tures.

That project is some years down the line and for now, the Sk­er­ries Mid­sum­mer Fes­ti­val is what fills the Sk­er­ries man’s thoughts and his di­ary and that of his hard-work­ing com­mit­tee. That com­mit­tee could al­ways use vol­un­teers to help run the fes­ti­val so if you have a few hours to spare in mid-June you would be wel­comed with open arms. Those in­ter­ested in just go­ing along and hav­ing fun at some of the myr­iad of events over the four days can get tick­ets lo­cally or on Eventbrite. You can find out more at the Sk­er­ries Mid­sum­mer Fes­ti­val Face­book page.

WHAT IT WILL AL­LOW THE PEO­PLE OF SK­ER­RIES TO DO IS RE­JOICE IN THEIR WON­DER­FUL LO­CA­TION WHERE THEY LIVE AND KIND OF HAR­VEST IN ON THAT AND RECOG­NISE THE SEA AND THE SEA­SIDE AND ALSO RE­JOICE IN THE FACT THAT WE WON THE TIDIEST TOWN IN IRE­LAND.

Sk­er­ries Row­ing Club Carol Guinan, Ni­amh But­ler, Ciaran Barker and Deb­o­rah McLough­lin with Ar­leigh Clarke at the launch of Sk­er­ries Mid­sum­mer Fes­ti­val.

Al­fie Forkan(left), Terry McCoy, Al Porter and DJ Forkan at the launch of Sk­er­ries Mid­sum­mer Fes­ti­val.

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