Reopening of Bulmers' Dowd's Lane site a highlight of Clonmel's new apple festival

Applefest

Louise Garcia, Martin Behan, Clonmel Tidy Towns and Theresia Guschlbauer, Suircan Community Forum, at the launch of Applefest, which runs over the last weekend of September

A brand new festival for Clonmel, to add to the town’s calendar of festive events, has been launched. 

Clonmel Applefest will take place over the last weekend of September and aims to celebrate the natural abundance of Cluain Meala, the Vale of Honey, where fertile soil, irrigated by many streams and rivers and blessed by a gentle climate, come together to create a unique habitat conducive to the production of delicious food. 

This abundance enabled an agricultural and industrial boom from the 18th century onwards and which continues to this day with many thriving farming, food and drinks enterprises based in the area.

The handsome brochure and promotional video were unveiled at the launch in the Town Hall, with a large attendance of well wishers present. 

District Mayor Richie Molloy highlighted the role of festivals such as Clonmel Applefest to bring more tourism to the area. 

Cllr. Michael Murphy, vice-chairperson of Tipperary County Council, praised the work and passion of groups such as Suircan Community Forum and Tidy Towns and the key role of partnerships in growing the social capital in the county. 

The Applefest programme aspires to reflect the passion and community spirit of the area, with several public events such as the Apple and Heritage Fair on Saturday, September 29th, which will see the Bulmers Apple Yard in Dowd’s Lane open to the public for a stroll down memory lane; and many other apple-related displays and craft demonstrations, workshops and exhibits taking over the town’s Friary area and pedestrian streets. 

Above - At the launch of the Clonmel Applefest festival were Roisín O'Grady, Heritage Officer; District Mayor Richie Molloy; Cllr. Michael Murphy, County Council Leas Cathaoirleach; Eileen Acheson and Martin Nolan, South Tipperary Beekeepers

A selection of stalls will sell food to eat at nearby picnic tables, with a full line-up of music in two separate performance areas showcasing the best Tipperary musical talent.

Other stalls selling artisan food produce, Irish crafts, garden plants and a large selection of apples will also be present.

The festival kicks off with The Land of Plenty exhibition at the Arts Centre, where a large selection of artists present work celebrating the land and its plentifulness. This will be followed by an evening of prose and spoken word on the same theme, featuring locally-based writers and poets. 

Other events to look out for are the Heritage Cider and Food Soiree, featuring Tipperary produce prepared by local chef Barbara Russell, accompanied by local craft cider and an array of cameos by Clonmel performers appearing as local historical characters in the atmospheric Council Chamber. 

Sunday, 30th September will see the Vale of Honey community day with many environmental, river and performance groups vying for attention, while people lunch by the riverside at the start of the Greenway at the New Quay car park. 

Featured food will include a pig on a spit, oven-baked pizza and crepes, as well as a selection of apple desserts. Later that evening, a screening of the Symphony of the Soil documentary by the maker of the Future of Food will be hosted by Suircan Community Forum at Bakers Bar.

Above - Present at the launch of Clonmel Applefest were Anne Marie Breen, Roisín O'Grady, Heritage Officer; Theresia Guschlbauer, Suircan Community Forum; Cllr. Michael Murphy, Leas Cathaoirleach of Tipperary County Council; Bernie Fahey, former Bulmers employee, and Alan Moore

Theresia Guschlbauer, the organiser of Clonmel Applefest reminded the gathered assembly of the key role played by a group of local champions and ‘invisible’ partners, who came on board early on to support the setting up of this new ambitious venture. These included Clonmel Show, Clonmel Rotary, LAWCO (Local Authorities Waters and Communities Office), the Arts Centre and the board of Suircan community Forum, its sponsoring body. 

The festival facilitates the employment of locally-based professionals and artists and contributes to their retention in the area. Other grants from Creative Ireland, Leader and Tipperary County Council were also secured, which ensured that the event could go ahead. 

For more information and updates, go to the website www.clonmelfestival.ie or follow the festival on Facebook and Twitter.