The Irish are renowned throughout the world
for their ability to enjoy themselves and need little excuse to hold a
festival. If you're visiting Ireland this year you could find yourself doing
anything from quaffing oysters and reading poetry, to drinking green Guinness,
cheering at the rugby and maybe even crowning a goat! Here's an overview of
events in Ireland this year:
January - It may be a cold and wet month
but that doesn't dampen the Celtic spirit and a little ‘uiscea beatha' can help
warm up the bones. In Kildare Town they'll be celebrating Kildare's patron
saint St Brigid who famously weaved a cross from reeds to help convert the
pagans. The Feile Bride runs from January 26 to February 2 and the festival
includes lectures, folklore, music and reflection.
February - In February everything in
Ireland turns oval, as it also does in England, Scotland, Wales, France and
Italy. Why? Because it's Six Nations Rugby and the focus in each of these
countries is on large burly men running around with funny shaped balls. Unless
it's Wales, where the focus is usually on a wooden spoon.
March - Nothing at all happens in Ireland
in March...Of course that's not true, because as
everyone and his Leprechaun knows, on March 17th from Malin Head to
Mizen Head, the Emerald Isle becomes even greener to celebrate St Patrick's Day
and just about everywhere in Ireland holds an event, festival or party of some
April - Easter sees the commemoration of
one of Ireland's most momentous and tumultuous events - the 1916 Easter
Uprising. Other than history this month also sees a celebration of another of
Ireland's favourite pastimes - horseracing, with the Punchestown Irish National
Hunt from April 22 to 26.
May - Spring has sprung and the promise of
summer sees the Burren in Bloom, a spectacular time to visit this evocative
corner of Co. Clare as the flora of this unique habitat work their colourful
magic. Elsewhere in Ireland you'll find events of all kinds from an Irish Trad
festival in Dingle (May 1st to 5th), a Jazz festival in
Bray (May 2nd to 4th) or even road bowling in West Cork
(May 1st to 4th).
June - If you're walking through the
streets of Dublin on June 16th and you find yourself in the company
of people talking gibberish and wearing 19th century costumes,
you've not stepped onto the set of another BBC costume drama. It's Bloomsday,
when Dublin celebrates the literary genius of James Joyce's Ulysses by acting
out passages from the book, in the city that it helped make famous.
July - Something special is happening in
Cork from June 21st to July 6th. The city that gave the
world Crubbens, Murphy's, the Blarney Stone and Roy Keane is holding a
Midsummer Festival with twelve days of comedy, music, arts and opera with
performances on every corner of the People's Republic, using anything from
parks and churches to trains and derelict buildings as venues. There's a picnic
in the park, a Spiegeltent and outdoor performances from Corcadorca - not to be
August - With the summer in full swing
Ireland's festival calendar hits overdrive in August, with Ireland's oldest
festival Oul' Lammas Fair in Ballycastle and Ireland's strangest; Puck Fair in
Killorglin, where the town's folk crown a goat and drink for three days!
Meanwhile the Galway Races are a more sober affair (but only for the horses)
with a week of horseracing running from July 28th - August 3rd.
While fine fillies of a different kind are on show at the world famous Rose of
Tralee beauty pageant from August 22nd to 26th.
September - Jonathan Swift once wrote; ‘It
was a bold man who ate the first oyster', well now in its 54th Year,
the Galway Oyster festival (25th - 28th) is testament to
their gourmet delights or is it just all the Guinness they drink to help the
things down? But these slippery molluscs are a mere hors d'ouevres to the main
event in September that is the All Ireland Finals in Hurling and Football. For
desert why not try the cheese board that is the Lisdoonvarna Match Making
October - The end of the harvest sees a
celebration of one of Ireland's great writers of the people, J.B Keane author
of ‘The Field', in his hometown of Listowel. Long before the American's
introduced Halloween to the world, the barefoot Celtic pagans of Ireland were
celebrating the tradition of Samhaim and they still do, though with shoes and
they call it Halloween. The best of the fancy dress traditions are in Derry
where the walled city holds a spectacular fireworks display over the River
November - Commemorating another of
Ireland's great writers of the people is the Patrick Kavanagh Festival on
November 30th in the poet's hometown of Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan. The
son of a shoemaker, Kavanagh like many of his time, was a farm labourer who
went to mass, went to market, went to dances, wakes, weddings and funerals and
made these everyday experiences the subject for his poems like the Great Hunger
and Raglan Road, that made Kavanagh one of Ireland's favourite poets.
December - Christmas is a time for family
in Ireland, while race events on St Stephen's Day draw great crowds at
Leopardstown and Limerick and the Christmas cheer carries on into the New Year.
Whatever time of year you plan to visit
Ireland, you'll be sure to find some way to enjoy the craic!