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Festival fever strikes again in Ballygar and Castlerea

There has always been something special about the August Bank Holiday Weekend, and indeed the entire month of August, and if you were to meet my long suffering wife, Carol, she would tell you that I usually go a little bit mad, and I suppose it probably traces back to my very young days when the annual carnival in Creggs used to start on the 15th August.

Our carnival would last for a fortnight, which would be unheard of nowadays, and while the carnivals have all faded away over the years, it’s remarkable to tell you that our neighbours up in Ballygar are still going strong, and as I write this on the Bank Holiday Monday (wonder if that’s double time) I’m delighted to say that after 70 years it’s still packing them in, and drawing absolutely huge crowds to the East Galway Town.

However, on the other side of us, Castlerea, too, have their Annual Rose Festival over the weekend, and, so, on Thursday night I decided to take a trip down to see what was going on and listen to the open air music being provided by Declan Nerney and his band.

Now, as you know by now, I am one of the great jivers in this vicinity, and could have been the Champion at the Harvest Festival in Creggs in 2011 (actually I think that might have been The Waltzing Competition) if I hadn’t fallen as I did a doing a particularly difficult manoeuvre, but I’m told that when it comes to dancing the Nerney Band is out on it’s own.

I have to admit that I wasn’t fully prepared for the crowds in Castlerea that night, as no matter where I looked there were cars parked everywhere and, along with the huge crowds at the Declan Nerney Show, the amusements, in Patrick Street, were absolutely buzzing.

We stayed until the rain came, sometime around 10 o’clock, and on the way home paid a visit to the beautiful bar that you will find in Tommy Dowd’s in Glinsk, where everyone was looking forward to the Slave Auction which was due to take place on Sunday night.

Apparently every member of the Glinsk Football panel were being auctioned off, all thirty of them, and whatever lucky ladies bought them (I suppose fellows could bid as well) would have their services for whatever task might be put to them, for a whole day to be taken any time in the next 12 months.

It was all as a fundraiser, and I have to say it sounded like great craic, and, as with everything that happens in Glinsk, I’m certain there would have been a great crowd to support it last night, and I look forward to finding out who bought who!

Meanwhile in Mikeen’s

Anyway onto Sunday night in Mikeen’s (I was unable to get to Sean Connaughton’s 60th Birthday party on Saturday night, but I’m told there was such a large attendance they certainly didn’t miss me, but, happy birthday and congrats to Sean), and PJ Davis was playing to a very happy and enthusiastic audience when the chat turned to the remarkable resilience of the Irish People.

The reason of course, was the totally abysmal summer that we are getting, with almost constant rainfall, and yet, as one of our group pointed out, people are going around with smiles on their faces and showing no sign of any gloom, or misery.

Again we talked of all the festivals that so many hard working committees were putting on, all over the region, and how it would be half reasonable to hope for some good weather at this time of year, and you would almost think that due to the terrible weather, they would all be suffering badly.

Thankfully that doesn’t seem to be the case, and I met a few hardy mountain folk who told me that, rain of nor rain, last Sunday was the best day they have ever had at the Donamon Open Day – I was delighted to hear it, and it show that when we the Irish want to have a good time nothing will stop us.

Festival Fever

And so it’s now Bank Holiday Monday, and I’ve just come home from The Fair Day in Ballygar, and no words of mine will do justice to the incredible crowds, atmosphere, and sheer enjoyment on the closed off Main Street – there were all kinds of stalls, lads on stilts, a pig being roasted on the spit, Cara Ceol were playing live on the open air stage, asses, ponies and horses all over the place and I have to say it was just magic.

I couldn’t try to figure out how many people were there, but I’d say it was thousands, and the craic was ninety – sadly duty called and I had to go home to write this piece (you are probably saying it’s a pity he didn’t stay) and so I missed out on having a piece of the gorgeous looking pig!

Maybe next year. Anyway, thank God (not the weather one) Ballygar, Castlerea and I’m sure Loughglynn have proved once again, that nothing will stop us from having a party, and long may it last.

Rough Justice

Changing subjects entirely, and sometimes we read or hear of an incident that would literally sicken us to the pits of our stomachs.

Such an incident occurred last week when we read of the actions of a certain Liam Dowling, who killed his daughter’s Jack Russell dog,by swinging it overhead with it’s lead and repeatedly, (up to 30 times) smashing it’s body into the ground.

Now I don’t deny that when I heard of Dowling’s act, and that then he avoided jail, when Judge Martin Nolan said he would make him do 200 hours of Community Service in lieu of a two year sentence, I was totally amazed and disgusted, and, yet having seen an interview with him, I now believe that he was out of his mind with drugs at the time and he is genuinely remorseful and ashamed at what he did to a poor defenceless dog.

And of course that leads us to a debate on whether such an occurrence should be allowed to make us part of the defence, as time after time in assault or murder cases we are told that the perpetrator has no recollection of anything due to too much alcohol, or drugs or even a cocktail of both.

Obviously I have no real knowledge of the law, but it does lead one to believe that in a lot of cases, people get away with lesser sentences because they claim to be “out of their minds” – is it an easy cop out or is it a genuine situation!

I don’t know but as the proud minder of a young Jack Russell called “Hope”, I can’t think of a more lovable or loving breed of dog, and it’s awful to think of the terrible death Liam Dowling’s pet dog suffered.


Finally for this week those of us who grew up with the pop music of the sixties, were very much saddened by the death yesterday of Cilla Black- she was a Liverpool lass, who graduated to a TV star from her pop career, and she was one of the best loved and most popular TV presenters for more than three decades – she will be missed.

Till next week. Bye for now.

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