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Hansard and street party among festival highlights

July 19th, 2016 5:05 PM

By Siobhan Cronin

Guest speaker Peter Murray of the Crawford Art Gallery with Cllr Seamus McGrath, Mayor of Cork County, and Brendan McCarthy, Arts Festival chairman, pictured at the launch of Skibbereen Arts Festival at the Riverside Café on Tuesday evening.(Photo: Anne Minihane)

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THE St Fachtna’s Silver Band in Skibbereen will double up as the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for a 60s Street Party as part of the town’s Arts Festival, which kicks off next week.

At the launch in the town’s Riverside Café on Tuesday night, festival committee chairman Brendan McCarthy said the organisers were very encouraged by the continuing support of both the Arts Council and Cork County Council. 

‘We must be doing something right,’ he commented, thanking them for their backing.

The festival will include events at over 25 venues in the town, and will run from July 22nd – 31st. There will be a further addition to the line-up, on August 3rd and 4th, with Oscar-winning songwriter Glen Hansard performing at a tribute to fellow musicians Colin Vearncombe (aka Black) and Fergus O’Farrell who died earlier this year.

There will also be numerous art exhibitions, literary performances, workshops, historical walks and theatre days, among other events.

‘It’s a labour of love, but it’s worth it,’ said Brendan.

Cork’s new county Mayor, Cllr Seamus McGrath, also spoke at the launch, revealing that he was ‘half West Cork’ himself, given that his father was born in Bantry, and the family often holidayed here.

This was his second time in as many weeks attending an event in West Cork – as he had attended the Men’s Shed opening in Allihies the previous weekend, he said.

Performing the official opening of the festival, Peter Murray, the curator of Cork’s Crawford Art Gallery, who has a home near Skibbereen, said the townspeople had an ‘uncontrollable, unstoppable spirit of enterprise’ which never failed to amaze him. ‘The spirit here is really unique’.

And he told of meeting an elderly lady coming out of Field’s when he gently enquired how she was. “I’m alive and kicking, thank you!” she told him, with the enthusiastic fervour he has come to expect in Skibbereen. ‘You don’t get that in East Cork!’ he said, apologising to Mayor McGrath, who responded with: ‘We’ll have to do something about that so!’

Mr Murray also complimented the town for its brave choice of building for its arts centre. ‘In any other town, that building would be a bank or other financial institution. But Skibbereen made its most modern building the arts centre.’ He added that he liked the fact that elitism had no place – either in the arts centre, or at the Arts Festival. Supporters and sponsors – including media sponsor The Southern Star – were all thanked by the speakers, and it was noted that volunteers are still needed. 

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