Féile na Laoch looks to Irish future
The challenges of economic, technological, and climate change come under discussion this weekend at a festival examining the next seven years of Ireland’s future.
While the first part of Féile na Laoch earlier this summer honoured heroes of the arts, the second section brings together speakers on topics including health, farming, and politics in a bid to inspire “joined-up thinking” on future development.
The festival of heroes, held once every seven years, is inspired by the life and work of composer Seán Ó Riada and its two parts commemorate his birth on August 1, 1931, and death on October 3, 1971.
Among the speakers looking ahead to Ireland 2025 this Saturday will be Australian entrepreneur Bill Liao, venture capitalist, philanthropist, and co-founder of CoderDojo.
He will discuss developments in technology, while food production and farming will be the subject of a talk by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, and former DCU and Maynooth professor Finbarr Bradley will consider what lies ahead for business and the economy. Cathal MacSwiney Brugha of UCD Business School, grandson of Terence MacSwiney and Cathal Brugha, will compare Ireland’s economic development with that of India and China.
MEP Liadh Ní Riada, the Sinn Féin presidential candidate and daughter of Seán Ó Riada, will talk on the subject of European development, while her sister, RTÉ political correspondent Sorcha Ní Riada, will discuss the future of Irish politics.
Their brother, composer Peadar Ó Riada, is the driving force behind Féile na Laoch. He said the public will be invited to join the speakers in an open-floor session for a cohesive debate on Ireland’s future. “All the talks during the day will be about what the developments will be over the next seven years and where we will be in 2025 when we next have Féile na Laoch.
“Those are the parameters for all the speakers,” he said.
“We hope to inform people. Quite often you hear stuff in isolation from other things but by putting it all together like this you’re able to connect the dots. This is about looking foward for seven years.”
Liadh Ní Riada officially opened the first part of Féile na Laoch, before her selection as a presidential candidate, while the “heroes” of the arts on stage in Cúil Aodha included poet and president Michael D Higgins and journalist and presidential hopeful Gemma O’Doherty.
The first part of the féile also saw artists including Christy Moore, Phil Coulter, and Glen Hansard perform at a free all-night concert. But the local community and business-owners were the unsung heroes of Féile na Laoch, Peadar noted, as they supported the event when Arts Council funding was not forthcoming.
“We are very grateful to all the local people who sponsored and supported us because we managed to pay for this festival without any central funding except Údarás na Gaeltachta, Ealaín na Gaeltachta, Cork County Council, and local businesspeople.
“The Arts Council never supported us, but that allowed us to be really free in terms of our choice and structure and the emphasis we had, which is quite important because nowadays when you get grants there are so many strings attached,” he said.
Saturday’s programme of speakers begins at 10am, with an open debate at 6pm, followed by a concert showcasing the songs of Gaeltacht Mhúscraí at 8pm, all taking place in the Mills Inn, Baile Mhúirne.
On Sunday a wreath will be laid at the grave of Seán Ó Riada at 12 noon, and at 2pm Christopher Swann’s film on Ó Riada, A Vertical Man will be shown in the Ionad Cultúrtha, Baile Mhúirne. A concert featuring Ceoltóirí Chualann, Seán Ó Sé, Cór Chúil Aodha, and Cór Ban Chúil Aodha begins at 8.30pm in Áras Éamon Mac Suibhne, Cúil Aodha, ending at midnight in a formal closing ceremony.