The folk who organised the original event, which ran back in the seventies and eighties, may not – with the odd honourable exception – be there but the spirit of the Letterkenny International Folk Festival lives on!
And this weekend, a revised version of the popular entertainment experience is being staged in the town and is set to draw huge crowds to enjoy a packed programme of music and dancing and plenty more besides.
The event will be officially opened by singer and songwriter, Charlie McGettigan, at the An Grianan Theatre on Thursday evening at 7.p.m.
The Ballyshannon born performer won the Eurovision Song Contest in the company of Paul Harrington with ‘Rock ‘N Roll Kids’ in 1994. Before and since he has been a highly popular figure on the entertainment scene.
“He’ll be singing a couple of his songs on the night while a few more acts will also be performing to help launch the Festival,” chairperson, Johnny Joe McCollum disclosed.
“We would like former festival committee members to come along and share their memories of the old days. But we want to see as many as possible there.”
The gig rig will be located at the Market Square on Friday night with live music, starting at 8.p.m., featuring Rory & The Island and the Dublin City Ramblers who themselves performed at one of the original Folk Festivals.
Before that the Cathedral Quarter will host a walking tour of Letterkenny starting at Dillons Hotel at 3.p.m. This particular venue will also a special Church Lane Reunion as part of Heritage Week on the Thursday night from 8.p.m. to 10.p.m.
Meanwhile, one of the true originals of the old Letterkenny International Folk Festival, Sally Blake, will host an exhibition of old Festival memorabilia, comprising numerous photographs and other material, at the Donegal County Museum from 6.p.m. on Friday.
“I gathered together a big collection of photos, programmes and posters and a lot more during the time of the festival and am delighted to be able to put it on public display,” said the Honorary President of the new Folk Festival.
At 7.p.m. on the Friday evening, ‘The Tailor’s Troubles’ will provide a session of traditional music at the Market Square.
On Saturday from 11.a.m. through to 2.p.m., the Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce will host a busking festival which promises to attract a wide variety of street performers.
At 12.p.m., Brian Walsh will host a Town Treasure Hunt commencing at the Station House Hotel.
Then for four hours from 2.p.m. onwards, Letterkenny Main Street will fairly buzz with the sound of music and the sight of dancing at various venues including the Old Courthouse, the Market Square, the Central Library, and the Post Office.
A true international flavour will be incorporated into the afternoon with Polish, Russian and Indian groups bringing culture and colour to the main thoroughfare.
The Letterkenny Senior Accordion Band will give a rendition at the Market Square from 5.p.m. to 6.p.m. while the day will also include fun and games for children (2.p.m. to 5.p.m.) and skittles at (where else?) Skittles Alley at 6.30.p.m.
The gig rig on Saturday will have relocated to the Port Road where a trio of top performers will keep the masses entertained including Jim Devine and Johnny Brady and the legendary Brush Shiels who, way back in the mists, was the frontman for the big act of the time, Skid Row.
On Sunday morning, it’s time for the athletic minded to take to the roadways for the Festival Road Relay Races hosted by Letterkenny Athletic Club.
Race One will feature girls and boys 3×500 metres while Race Two will see the male and female open 3×1500 metres event along with the Masters event. Registration is from 10.a.m. at Charlie’s Café on the Pearse Road.
One of the events that caught the imagination from those old Folk Festival days was the Soap Box Derby and it’s making a return for the 2019 version in association with the RNLI Lifeboat. The starting ramp will be located at the Golden Grill on the Port Road and entry fee is 40 euro with children going free.
Organisers are hoping for as many as possible to climb on their soap boxes and there’s 500 euro in prize money as a prime incentive. You can enter by contacting Frank at 083-4228226.
And following the derby, a ball race, with up to €1,000 in prizemoney.
The Festival of former times was geared towards every age group and this one is no exception with the St. Eunan’s G.A.A. Club and Letterkenny CDP hosting a Family Fun Day from 3.p.m. to 6.p.m. at O’Donnell Park.
Everything from face painting to a fancy dress competition and from wet sponge throwing and sporting activities has been pencilled in with various flavours of international cuisine also on sale.
The same venue will host a special Party in the Park organised by the Donegal Youth Services coinciding with the family fun event.
“We are hoping the town comes out in its droves to support the festival over the weekend,” chairperson McCollum appealed.
The Festival is receiving the support of the Letterkenny Vintners Association and the brewers along with local business outlets and organisations.
“We are extremely grateful to them all for their backing. Now all we need is for the people to come out and lend their support,” added the chairperson.Tags: