Viking battles, music. drama, urban poc fada and glorious weather make it a Clancy festival to remember

John O'Dwyer and crew go for a spin on his boat the Shiela D on the River Suir during the River Festival on Monday.
Aileen Hahesy

Aileen Hahesy

It was the perfect ending to a great festival weekend in Carrick-on-Suir - hundreds of people basking in the sun on the riverbank listening to bands performing and watching boats racing as kids created Viking battle shields and enjoyed magic shows.

The River Festival at Sean Healy Park was a fitting finale to an action packed Bank Holiday Weekend in the town where both the Clancy Brothers Music & Arts Festival and Maurice Davin Festival joined forces to stage an eclectic mix of music, cultural and sporting events.

The sun shone gloriously for the Clancy Festival’s big family event and the ice-cream van was the busiest stand in the park with a long queue of people seeking cool refreshments outside it all afternoon.

The group of Viking re-enactors, who set up camp beside the river bank, would have appreciated a 99 cone or two as they must been wiping away the sweat from their brows in their heavy costumes and armoury.

Another hugely popular attraction was the magic and puppet shows, which were avidly watched by kids throughout the afternoon in between stints on the three bouncy castles.

At the other end of the park, people relaxed on rugs and in deck chairs and some even cooked up a barbecue as they sat back to hear the music of local band Amber Jean, the Fayreweather traditional group and Two Time Polka Cajun music group performing on the gig stage.

Clancy Festival Chairman Ross Clery said they were delighted with the public support for all the festival’s events and the great weather over the weekend certainly helped to bring out the crowds at all the outdoor events.

Earlier on Monday, the town hosted the country’s first ever urban Poc Fada contest. Nine hurlers representing local clubs in Carrick-on-Suir and its hinterland took on the challenge of pucking the sliothar from Ormond Castle to Sean Healy Park via Main St, Bridge Street and The Quay. Niall Walsh from Windgap GAA Club in Co. Kilkenny won the competition after covering the one mile route in nine pucks.

“Covering the route in nine pucks was very impressive given that the ball wasn’t allowed to go up on the footpath and you could only hit it up to head height. It took a great deal of skill to do that,” said Ross Clery, who confirmed the Festival is considering running the novel contest again.

The poc fada was one of several sporting events that attracted a lot of spectator interest and participants during the festival. The river walk from the town to Dove Hill attracted a record 135 walkers while the Bobby Power Carrick Wheelers Sportive 60km cycle race also attracted its biggest entry yet of more than 100 cyclists.

But the Clancy Festival was above all about the music. Damien Dempsey gave an energetic and passionate performance at his concert in the Strand Theatre on Friday night. His support act The Mandolas were also a bit hit with the audience.

Ross Clery reported that the Charlie McGettigan, Jimmy Crowley and Clancy Family concerts at Brewery Lane Theatre were all sell outs as were the lunchtime performances of WB Yeats play “The Pot of Broth” at the theatre.

Talented Carrick-on-Suir singer Neil Bourke won both the senior category of the Festival’s Street Busking Competition and also Eoghan Power Memorial Singing Contest in Figgerty’s Bar after a sing off with his nearest rival.

The Festival also boasted a vibrant art programme with the work of more than 100 local, photographers, artists and school children showcased at pop up galleries throughout the town.

Ross Clery said the festival brought international visitors as well as tourists from all over the country to Carrick-on-Suir and the local hotel as well as B&Bs and caravan park were full with guests over the weekend.