A significant change in political allegiance followed the huge electoral success of the Alliance Party in Northern Ireland last May. In the heartland of unionism, Stewart Dickson returned two seats for the Alliance Party in East Antrim for the first time with his running mate Danny Donnelly.
The former Mayor of Carrickfergus and former Party Chief Whip will outline the impact of the Alliance Party’s success for people North & South of the border, when he officially opens the upcoming Waterways Ireland Scariff Harbour Festival.
‘Despite an absence of two years because of the Covid pandemic, we are delighted to be back on track with the festival up and running again from July 29th to the 31st,’ said Michael Rodgers, Chairman of the Festival Organising Committee. ‘Although primarily a family festival, we continue to maintain a link with Northern Ireland, set down when the festival and our relationship with Waterways Ireland began in 2003. We also welcome a new supportive relationship with EKO Integrated Services, now operating a warehousing and logistics service on the former Finsa Forest site.’ he said.
It has been a source of great pride in East Clare that the Waterways Ireland Western Regional HQ was established in Scariff as one of the North South Implementation Bodies under the British/Irish Agreement in 1999 and continues to be an important presence today. ‘We are especially pleased that former trade unionist and Labour Relations arbitrator in Northern Ireland, Stewart Dickson will keep alive the link built over the past two decades and open the 2022 Scariff Harbour Festival,’ the Chairman added
A fantastic and varied range of land and water-based events will take place from Friday evening July 29th until Sunday night 31st. Street activities will bring the town alive with an open-air market, scouting capers from the 10th Clare Scariff/Mountshannon Scout Group, magic and comedy with Oisin Foley and Zumba with Taylor, a Latin inspired fitness dance programme for everyone. The young, older and less active can create their own silk painting, there is foraging for edible flowers and busking too!
Bands have always been a feature of the festival and none more so than this year. Co. Clare – based 80s & 90s rock band, ‘Blue Herring’ will get the crowd rocking on opening evening followed by ‘Cash Returns’ a duo who will take the audience to a place and time when Cash & Carter (Johnny & June) reigned supreme. Set dancers will batter it out to the sound of the celebrated Kilfenora Céilí Band on final night, followed by folk and trad band ‘Drops of Green’. Scariff singer song-writer, Faye Moloney will perform to her local audience on Saturday evening and ‘Spirit of Smokie’ returns to wide appeal, while sweet East Clare music can be heard at the Harbour earlier in the evening.
Talks and walks continue to be a popular part of the programme. Master fiddle player, Martin Hayes will chat about aspects of his recently published memoir ‘Shared Notes – A Musical Journey’ at Scariff Library, genealogist Jane Halloran-Ryan will talk of emigrant stories from East Clare parishes to Ellis Island at the turn of the 20th century, while native woodland specialist, Andrew St Ledger will take people on a journey through time from St. Cronan’s Church in Tuamgraney to the community Native Woodland Restoration Project in Raheen. Orchards, bees and flowers will be central to biodiversity tours and children’s treasure hunt at Irish Seedsaver’s 20 acre farm at Capparoe, just outside Scariff.
For the water sports enthusiasts, there is Kayaking on the Scariff River with Derg Isle Adventure Centre and free Waterway Ireland Boat Tours. For the landlubbers, there’s a guided 14.5km looped walk through Cappabane and the Scariff Hills with Marie Bugler while the kids expend all their energy in the GAA Park with Toons and Balloons and lots of games and activities. Weather permitting Outdoor Mass will be held at the Mass Rock in Cappabane on Sunday and indoors McKernan Woollen Mills will have Open Days over the festival week-end.