Féile na Laoch looks to Irish fu­ture

Irish Examiner - County - - News - Pet O’Con­nell

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.

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