NUMBERS attending this year’s West Cork History Festival in Skibbereen rose by 20%, making the third annual event a sell-out success.
Simon Kingston who, together with his wife Victoria organised the festival, confirmed that the sale of more than 500 tickets meant they were operating at, or near, capacity.
Mr Kingston attributed the increase to the topicality of some of the subjects that were discussed – particularly the triangular relationship between Ireland, Britain and Europe, in the context of Brexit.
Mr Kingston said word of mouth and media coverage had driven sales and they, as a result, expect to break even this year, after two years subsiding the festival themselves.
The fact that the festival has attracted sponsorship from Cork County Council, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Fáilte Ireland, as well as a group of ‘Friends of the Festival’, also helped.
With roughly one-third of the audience coming from Cork, one third from the rest of the country, and one third from overseas, Mr Kingston claimed that the festival generated ‘a substantial spend’ in the local economy.
Most attendees stayed for several days, and this contributed to an estimated 600+ bed nights, plus an additional spend in local shops and restaurants.
The attendees enjoyed enhanced facilities including a large and attractively decorated marquee that housed two bookshops and two quality restaurants, as well as a brilliant pop-up pub, and a first-rate coffee bar – not to mention the nightly musical entertainment provided on site at Rosebank, next to the Liss Ard Estate.
Former Taoiseach John Bruton, who spoke on the opening night and stayed on to enjoy the festival, said he was impressed with the calibre of the speakers and the range of topics discussed.
He said: ‘There is obviously a huge demand for this sort of discussion and there has been a very high level of participation from members of the audience. I think it is a tremendous event. It is setting a very high standard.’