Three fes­ti­vals ev­ery week for a year. Mark Gra­ham goes to a fes­ti­val fes­ti­val

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FUN & GAMES -

Last week, there was a fes­ti­val for peo­ple who throw fes­ti­vals. The As­so­ci­a­tion of Ir­ish Fes­ti­vals and Events set up camp for their an­nual two-day pow-wow in Co Gal­way. They talk, train, net­work, so­cialise, hand out gongs and this year there was some Gath­er­ing go­ing on. Min­is­ter Michael Ring was there to fire up the troops who’ll be as­sem­bling the shindigs to dan­gle in front of ex-pats and pseudo-pad­dies to lure them back to the auld sod for the ses­sion next year.

While he was at it, he took is­sue with Gabe Byrne. Are the fes­ti­val foot-sol­diers en­thused about the prospect of col­lec­tively putting their shoul­der to the back of our 1983 Ford Fi­esta econ­omy, to give it a shove in an ef­fort to jump-start the crock? They’re rolling up their sleeves, they’re bend­ing their backs, but they’re not fully con­vinced that who­ever’s in the driv­ing seat knows how to let out the clutch. A ris­ing tide lifts all boats and hope­fully auld bangers too.

The fes­ti­val folk seem a lit­tle ap­pre­hen­sive, eas­ily un­der­stood when you con­sider many are be­ing asked to do a lot more work and prep for lit­tle ex­tra sup­port. With or with­out a di­as­pora del­uge ar­riv­ing from off our western coast, the en­gi­neers of en­ter­tain­ment are slog­ging away to make their fes­ti­vals hap­pen. They’ll still be sol­dier­ing on long af­ter the 2013 stats have been spun. I’m re­servedly op­ti­mistic about the ex­er­cise, but I’ve heard some plans for pro­mot­ing the event that have me cring­ing. Thank­fully there are umpteen fes­ti­vals of dis­tinc­tion around the coun­try, pop­u­lated by a co­hort of colourful char­ac­ters who are ca­pa­ble of keep­ing even the most ex­cru­ci­at­ing of cousins cushty.


I wouldn’t be used to rub­bing shoul­ders (or any­thing else) with politi­cians, but Min­is­ter Ring seemed a so­cia­ble sort and when I told him I was off to West­port for Rolling Sun Lit­er­ary Fes­ti­val, he sug­gested I meet him in Matt Mollys for a pint. It would have been rude to refuse. I may have been too early, but there was no sign of the min­is­ter in the house when I landed up. There I was at the bar in Co Mayo in the some­what awk­ward po­si­tion of be­ing stood up by a Micky Ring. How much mileage can I get from that par­tic­u­lar en­ten­dre? Much more than I can get with­out one sup­pos­edly. He was right though, West­port is a lovely town; of­fi­cially the best place to live in Ire­land he told me, more than once.

A lit­er­ary fes­ti­val by Clew Bay was just the kind of thing I needed to help rein in the cheap smutty jokes. It’s done won­ders. Mike Scott read from his re­cently pub­lished book and his Buachaillí Uisce buddy Steve Wick­ham was in town to lend a hand with a tune or two.

Maeve Higgins was also in town to share sto­ries and bits from her new pub­li­ca­tion.She was on top form and her read­ing/per­for­mance was per­sonal, warm, funny, touch­ing and thought­ful. She may just be the anti-Piers Mor­gan.


There fol­lows a con­fes­sion of sorts. I in­dulged a fetish last week­end. Noth­ing as in­ter­est­ing as Max Mosley in a bunga bunga bunker un­for­tu­nately. My name is Mark and I like lis­ten­ing to Sun­day

Miscellany on RTE Ra­dio 1. I’m out. I re­fer to it as S&M. That and mixed olive tape­nade are my Achilles’ heel in the con­tin­u­ing strug­gle against mid­dle-class as­pi­ra­tion. If they’d had canapés at the live record­ing of

S&M in West­port last Sun­day, I would have had to flag­el­late my­self with a Tommy Hil­figer cat­a­logue to purge the guilt. Thank God for Dublin Bur­lesque Fes­ti­val this week­end; it’s an es­sen­tial part of a bal­anced fes­ti­val diet.

Safe trav­els, don’t die.

❙❙❙ ayearoffes­ti­valsinire­land.com



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