Lough Derg and its waterways have always been at the heart of Scariff Harbour Festival but this year offers the most it’s ever had on a festival programme.
Still a developing concept in Ireland with recreational trails and sites closely linked to the water, the Lough Derg Blueway encompasses a series of paddling trails and lake activities with complementary walking, heritage, arts, crafts and food trails on shore.
Although surrounded by stunning countryside of its other bordering counties of Tipperary and Galway, the secret experience of East Clare is on the lake. There are wonderful opportunities for exhilarating activities and adventures and this year’s Harbour Festival has honed in on the increasing potential of the lake for kayak touring and the launch of a new kayaking club, the East Clare Paddlers.
‘Right from the very beginning of the Festival and working as closely as we do with Waterways Ireland, activities on Lough Derg have always been to the forefront. It’s what the festival celebrates and promotes,’said Mike Rodgers of Scariff Harbour Festival Committee. ‘It is now exciting to see new ventures bringing life to the lake, people to the area and a further element to the festival programme,’ the Festival Chairman said.
Led by former army officer, Paul Austin & Get West, aided by experienced members of the UL Kayak club, Paul and his team return Scariff to include a wide range of river and adventure-based activities where participants face new challenges in a safe and supported environment and most of all with fun in mind! The new kayak touring dimension on the Scariff River open to all from aged 10 upwards is now part of the Lough Derg Blueway. Trips are on the half hour on Saturday of the festival week-end with first class guides and equipment provided.
The complimentary Waterways Ireland boat trips have consistently been one of the most popular items on the festival programme. It is an opportunity for people to get to know the lake, often for the first time, maybe even spot a kingfisher as they meander downriver through the cattails and bulrushes before reaching the lake. Fishing for Kids has been a staple on the festival programme too. Boys and girls from 7-12 years old are shown how to cast a line, select baits, fish in a friendly atmosphere while returning the fish unharmed back into the water.
In addition to the lake activities, there is also a focus this year on outdoor fitness. Led by popular fitness instructors Aidan Fawl and Shane McGrath, both are helping to build on the rising national and international trend to get communities involved in a more active lifestyle.
‘Generally Shane and I are on a mission to help as many people get lean, lose weight and get mentally strong but at this year’s Scariff Harbour Festival we want to give people a taste of what’s possible when you take fitness exercises out of doors,’ said Aidan Fawl, who is committed to making outdoor workouts accessible and an important part of leisure life in the community. ‘No matter what age or level of fitness, just come to the Festival on Saturday morning with a positive attitude and we promise a fun-filled hour,’ he said.
Scariff Harbour Festival 2019 in association with Waterways Ireland runs from Thursday 1st August – Sunday 4th August. The only requirement for all festival activities (except the Christie Hennessy Tribute Concert) is one €5 wristband for the entire week-end.