THE STAKES were high and not a single punch was pulled at the Courtenay Lodge Hotel in Newcastle West recently when a heaving crowd of over 750 people attended the first ever ‘Battle of the Publicans’ white collar boxing event.
A total of 18 competitors, including several of the town’s publicans, squared off against each other in three one-minute rounds at the sold out event, which raised money for the town’s upcoming ‘Knights of WestFest’ festival.
Organiser Gearoid Whelan, who took on the moniker of ‘The Church Street Assassin’ for his fight against fellow publican John ‘The Corner Crusher’ Fitzgerald, said that the event was a tremendous success.
“It was a brilliant night, a marvellous success. We cleared about €12,000 out of it, and that’ll all go towards WestFest. Everyone had a great time, young and old.
“We were sore enough after it! In fairness, we all had a great time. The fights went the distance, but everyone was hugging and congratulating each other after it. There was fierce camaraderie between us.”
For the best part of two months, the competitors were put through their paces by Gavin Healy and Patrick Wilmott of Rathkeale Boxing Club, and helped ratchet up the excitement through a series of smack-talking YouTube videos.
Mr Whelan said that the boxing was barely over before they had decided what their next challenge is going to be – swapping their gloves for jodhpurs for a ‘Boxers Donkey Derby’ in the Castle Demesne in Newcastle West on September 16.
The donkey derby was one of the most popular events at last summer’s inaugural WestFest in Newcastle West, which revived the town’s old ‘Knights of Desmond’ festival.
The return of the event this year will see a bigger and better line up of live music and entertainment from September 12 to 16. The headline act will be The Saw Doctors, with Richie Kavanagh also in the line up. RTE 2FM presenter Hector will be returning to take up his role as MC.
Running alongside the ‘Knights of WestFest’ this year will be the ‘Taste of WestFest’ food festival, from September 15-16.
This unique event will showcase the best in local produce, and will see an artisan ‘food village’ created in the Demesne featuring quality produce from across the country, as well as live cookery demonstrations from Michelin star chef Ross Lewis.