Newly crowned, Clare Junior All-Ireland Camogie Champions, received a rousing reception as set dancers battered the floor to the Tulla Céilí Band bringing Scariff Harbour Festival 2023 almost to a close.
Darkening clouds and squally showers had earlier threatened the enjoyment of the festival opening on Friday night when Monica McWilliams, Co-founder of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition endeared and captivated her audience at Waterways Marina, marking the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
Signatory of that Agreement, she was accompanied on stage by the Mayor of Clare, Cllr Joe Cooney FG, Brian Treacy, newly appointed Waterways Ireland Western Regional Manager and Mike Rodgers, Chair of Scariff Harbour Festival Committee with Jim Collins as MC.
Undeterred by any weather threat, the festival was a huge success bringing thousands into the town and on to the streets over the four-day event. Qween Tribute band led by vocalist, Brian Keville was hugely popular while northern bands including The Logues, The 4 of Us entertained open-air audiences and the hauntingly beautiful vocals of Donna Taggart filled the local Church of the Sacred Heart.
‘Scariff Festival is back to full strength,’ said a delighted, Mike Rodgers. He paid tribute to the core group of organisers and the many locals who came on board over the festival week-end to ensure a fun and safe week-end for all.
The GAA Park was alive with screams of enjoyment and laughter as hundreds of children were treated to a huge range of fun activities with Toons & Balloons organised by Karena O’Brien, while endless young fans sought selfies with RTE’s Marty Morrissey when he co-hosted a Cookery Demonstration in the Fair Green with Ciara Brennan, fresh from her stall at the Mllk Market in Limerick.
Over 800 people visited the Chipboard People Exhibition telling the story of the old Chipboard factory in Scariff through the voices of eleven people, who worked there through the different phases of its evolution including Finsa. The idea, initiated and funded by EKO Integrated Services, Eugene Keane, CEO said ‘it was our way of paying tribute to all the employees of what was once the biggest employer in the East Clare area over many years.’
Professional genealogist, Jane Halloran-Ryan spoke at Waterways Marina about east Clare families in New Haven, Washington DC, Detroit and San Francisco, American cities not best known as places where local families settled in numbers. Outside in the sunshine Waterways Boat Tours moved gently down the Scariff River towards Lough Derg and taster sessions for young kayakers brought the river to life.
Over 150 people attended outdoor mass at the historic Mass Rock in Cappabane on the Slieve Aughty uplands where mass was celebrated in secret during the period of repression of Catholic worship in the late 17th century. A guided loop walk over similar territory provided spectacular views of Lough Derg.
Craft and artist’s stalls filled the Fair Green, the duo circus act, Jim & Dr, Nick thrilled the audiences young and old, buskers added to the atmosphere of summer fun, while scouting capers and art workshops gave huge enjoyment to those who participated and those who watched, ending another very good year of Scariff Harbour Festival.
Visit the festival’s Facebook page to see photos and videos from the weekend.