Westfest to bring back spirit of Knights of Desmond festivals

Gerard Fitzgibbon

Reporter:

Gerard Fitzgibbon

NEWCASTLE West will become a hive of trolley dashes, donkey derbies and chart-topping music acts in the second weekend in September, when the inaugural Heineken Westfest event takes place.

NEWCASTLE West will become a hive of trolley dashes, donkey derbies and chart-topping music acts in the second weekend in September, when the inaugural Heineken Westfest event takes place.

The festival will be the spiritual successor to the old Knights of Desmond celebration, which was last held in the town in the mid 1990s, and will feature appearances from Mundy, 2FM’s Hector O’hEochagain and a number of other musical acts from September 8-11.

As well as nightly music and entertainment on a specially-erected gig rig in the town square, Westfest will also see daily events from barbeques, fashion shows and a tug of war to a barmans’ race, a street trolley dash and a donkey derby.

Speaking at the launch of the festival at the Desmond Castle in the town this Monday night Gearoid Whelan, a member of the Westfest organising committee, said that Newcastle West will provide “something for everyone”.

“It’s been 15 years since there was a festival in Newcastle West, and we said we’d come back strong. We went for a superstar in our eyes in Mundy. He’s three number one hits. Newcastle West has never seen an act of his stature before.

“Support has been very, very good, especially from the businesses. This is only the start of it. We need the support of the people, especially the townspeople and West Limerick people.

“This was a massive festival in Newcastle West one time. We want to get it back to where it was”.

After a tug of war competition at McCoy’s bar on Sunday September 4 and a fashion show and business showcase at the Courtenay Lodge Hotel on Wednesday September 7, the festival officially kicks off on Thursday September 8 with a stretcher race, barmans’ race and slow bicycle race in the town centre from 7pm.

Limerick band Hermitage Green, featuring former Munster rugby star Barry Murphy, will perform in the square at 8.30pm.

On Friday, the ten participants in the revived Knights of Desmond contest will be interviewed on the main stage in the square by Hector O’hEochagain, followed by a performance from the Kopy Kat Killers.

On Saturday a duck race will take place in the river Arra at 1pm, with a ‘zumbathon’ fitness concert, face painting, puppet show, street entertainment and other activities taking place between 2pm and 5pm.

The headline act of the weekend, Mundy, will be performing at 8pm on Saturday night, with support from Michael O’Brien.

On Sunday night, the final day of the festival begins with a family fun day and barbeque at the Newcastle West GAA field, followed by a donkey derby, trolley dash and rodeo competition.

The final of the Knights of Desmond contest begins on the gig rig from 8pm, followed by music from West Limerick trad-rock band Mad for Road and pop tribute act Gaga 4 Pink.