Mick Wallace TD to open Lisavaird Festival of the Bard
BY CAROL GILBERT
INDEPENDENT TD Mick Wallace has generously agreed to open this year’s Lisavaird Festival of the Bard on its 25th anniversary, Friday July 27th.
Festival organisers had decided that this landmark anniversary merits being opened by a nationally known figure, and despite recent controversy surrounding the Wexford TD, the committee believe Mr Wallace is a colourful character whose presence will enhance the Festival of the Bard.
This family fun festival has, ever since its beginning, been honoured by the presence of the bard, an enigmatic figure who appears year after year bringing great entertainment in songs and yarns. As the bard is dressed in costume, his identity is never revealed and in time-honoured fashion he returns to the fort from whence he came at the close of the festival.
The week-long entertainment starts this Sunday, 22nd, with a poker tournament in the Pike Bar and is followed on Tuesday night with a ladies’ night of fashion and style in the community hall. The fun steps up a gear with a car treasure hunt on Wednesday, a festival whist drive and a bingo session. On Thursday 26th there’s the culmination of many weeks of competition with the grand final of the social bowling.
On Friday the entertainment starts with a fancy dress parade for adults and children, the opening of the festival by Mick Wallace TD and the arrival of the bard, which promises to make for a very colourful occasion. This is followed by music in the Pike Bar by the Music Makers.
There’s a fishing competition on Saturday, and after the weigh-in there will be a barbecue in Four All’s, Sam’s Cross. The entertainment continues with a children’s scavenger hunt and an evening of live music in the Pike Bar while the community hall offers dancing for the country dancers of West Cork to the sounds of Mike Fitzgerald and Southern Pride.
Sunday is the festival’s big family day, which begins with the vintage run, a farmers’ market, seven-a-side soccer competition, children’s sports day and face painting and bouncing castle. Also lined up are the Lisavaird National School band, a barbecue, traditional music sessions, ball-rolling, duck racing, more music and this special anniversary festival winds down with dancing to Ger Deasy in the community hall, which begins at midnight.
Twenty-five years ago, the late Revd Fr John White, a priest from the local area, who came back from the missions and worked for the last years of his life in the area, suggested hosting a festival to raise funds for a community hall.
Fr White was chairman of the Festival of the Bard committee and the first festival was held in 1987. Other committee members were: vice-chairman, Dick Kingston; secretary, Pat Dineen; treasurer, David O’Brien. They were supported by a large committee.
The community hall was built in 1990 and has been a huge asset to the community. Present day chairman Dick Kingston comments: ‘The hall is truly the essence of the community. It’s at the heart of everything that happens in Lisavaird and organisations using it throughout the year include the local development association, festival committee, Tidy Towns, badminton club, West Cork Motor Club, ICA, Foróige, in fact every club in the area. It also plays host to many Scor na nÓg events throughout the year as well as St Patrick’s Day concerts for any of the local schools and there’s even a defibrillator installed in the hall.’
Dick has been chairman of the committee since Fr White died in 1994 and present-day officers are vice-chairman Richard White (a nephew of the late Fr White), secretary Frank Muldoon, and treasurer Hazel Healy. Again, they are supported by a large committee.
The hall has enabled the local community to grow in strength and the community as a whole gets involved in the activities taking place there. Like all such facilities, there are maintenance costs involved and funds raised during the festival take care of the maintenance and running of the hall. Whilst they are no different from any other community group and have been affected by the recession, as a result of everyone working together, the good work Fr White started all these years ago looks set to continue for the future, thanks to the strength of the local community spirit.
Local legend says there was a bard living in a local fort who emerged once a year to make sure the local people were all right and the area was being run properly. So the legend continues today but the bard can rest easy because these days Lisavaird looks to be in very safe hands.
Probably one of the oldest surviving festivals over the past 25 years, many people organise their holidays around the festival, such is the mark of its success.
The festival committee expressed their gratitude to Fás, Tidy Towns, all their supporters and sponsors (especially mentioning ticket seller Paddy Coughlan, who is a great help to them and their main sponsors over many years), and Diarmuid and Mary O’Sullivan of Irish Yoghurts, whose ongoing support is greatly appreciated.
So come along and join in the fun and entertainment that is centred in Lisavaird this coming week. Anyone who wishes more information is invited to contact Finbarr O’Donovan on 085-1463712.