Saturday, 1 November 2014

Roscommon Lamb Festival launched

The 4th Roscommon Lamb Festival was launched last Wednesday night week to a packed JJ Harlow’s in Roscommon Town and the special guest on the night was Kevin McGarry from North Roscommon. The Festival will run over the course of the May Bank Holiday Weekend. 

Lamb Festival Chairperson Mr. Gerry Browne welcomed all present and noted that the Lamb Festival is now a firmly established celebration of all that is best in County Roscommon, stating that it is primarily a food festival which emphasises the high quality and healthy nature of grass fed livestock.

Mr. Browne pointed out that these facts are a marketing advantage for our farmers and outlined the broad nature of the festival programme, which embraces farm, food, heritage, ecology, arts, crafts, and more in a schedule of events that will take place not only in Roscommon town but also including St. John’s Wood, Knockcroghery, Rathcroghan, Castlecoote and Four Roads.

Roscommon Town is again the focal point with an attractive line-up of food, culture and family-orientated celebrations. The highlight of the festival this year is a world record attempt to have the most knitters in one place, the brainchild of Michelle Fallon who has put her heart and soul into making this a major talking point in Co. Roscommon and also all over the country. One thousand knitters are required, knitting together for 15 minutes. Thanks to the County Board and Roscommon Gaels, this attempt will be held in the stand at Dr. Hyde Park on Saturday 30th April at 1 pm. It is a daunting task, but one which Michelle and her craft committee have taken on with enthusiasm, energy and amazing creativity.

Mr. Browne urged everyone to contact all their relatives and friends to come to Roscommon for this event and achieve a place in the Guinness Book of Records. The other events in town include the art exhibition and Mr. Browne pointed out the importance of artists in the community and how vital it is to listen to what they are telling us, as they give us their interpretation of our lives and times.

The Farmers Market will feature the best in farm produce from the region and will include a demonstration of barbecuing techniques from the Brazilian tradition courtesy of Geraldo Marques also known as Toko. There will be a Craft Fair organised by the Enterprise Board, which will be in an additional marquee on the square for the weekend, where crafts from around the county will be displayed.

The Teenage Fashion Expo will feature on Friday night and give expression to the creativity, energy and enthusiasm of our young people. This will be followed by ‘Friday Night at the Movies’ in the marquee, courtesy of Robbie Dwyer and Paul Kane of the Roscommon Cinema Committee. Farm and heritage walks take place throughout the festival and food samples will be available at all these events. 

‘Ceiliuradh Gaeilge, a range of Irish language performances by the students of Gaelscoil de hÍde will be held in the Marquee on Saturday afternoon. The very popular Brazilian Barbeque will take place on Saturday night and Mr Browne pointed out that having used 15 full lambs last year the committee is expecting to need up to 25 lambs this year due to increased numbers of visitors to the town.

Sunday will start off with all-day International Sheep Dog Trials in Walsh’s Field, Racecourse Road, Roscommon Town. Sunday morning will also feature a family cycling tour of 20 km and a kayaking demonstration in Portrun. A Wool Craft Village in the Marquee will showcase all aspects of wool craft.

Meanwhile the Family Fun Day in the town park will be in full swing with the Army Band, Sheep Racing, Medieval Re-enactments, Bo Peep, Boy Blue Fancy Dress & Pet Lamb Competitions, Pony Rides, Old Street games for children and much more. Sunday night will see entertainment in the Marquee and Pub Gigs all over town.

On Monday there is a guided tour of the historic town of old Elphin at 2 pm. The Carers Marathon will bring the festival to a close and Mr. Browne urged everyone to support this cause, which is of such benefit to so many unsung heroes who look after people in need of full time care. Mr. Browne also announced that the Irish Wheelchair Association is the nominated charity of the festival this year and they will be selling tickets at €2 in the square for a car that will be raffled later in the year. Funds raised will go towards a wheelchair accessible bus, which is badly needed locally in Roscommon.

Moving on to funding Mr. Browne stated that the financial situation of the festival had improved since last year when the committee were faced with a €10,000 deficit. This has now been reduced to a more manageable level of €2,000 and he thanked the friends and sponsors for their support. The RIDC, Roscommon County Council, The County Enterprise Board, Bord Fáilte, Bord Bia were all important funding agencies who supported the festival.

He also warmly thanked the sheep farmers of Roscommon who had sponsored lambs and bought raffle tickets. He was delighted to note that farm prices have risen a little and looked forward to continued support this year from the farming sector.

Mr. Browne was followed by Ms. Una Quinn of Roscommon County Council and Mr. Michael Spellman, chairperson of RIDC, both of whom expressed their continued support for the Roscommon Lamb Festival.

  For more information on the festival visit www.roscommonlambfestival.com or check it out on facebook.