BRENDAN O’Carroll would have been pleased. His award-winning comedy series Mrs Brown’s Boys was the inspiration for the float which took first prize on the opening night of the Foynes Irish Coffee Festival.
The floats parade kicked off the festival and was a lively and colourful affair, spiced up with banter and high spirits but with a competitive edge. And it was clear to all that much ingenuity and an incredible amount of work had gone into creating the stories told on each float.
It made for a good start in a festival where free entertainment and family fun took centre-stage. One of the big success stories of the weekend was the visit of Irish naval services’ vessel the L.E.Orla which was open to visitors on both Saturday and Sunday afternoon and attracted people in their hundreds. “There were queues on both afternoons, and an estimated 1300 people visited the ship over the weekend,” chairwoman of the festival committee Margaret O’Shaughnessy explained. “The crew were gobsmacked. They had rarely seen anything like it.”
Speaking at the Powers Irish Coffee Making Championship on Sunday, Ms O’Shaughnessy pointed out that the Irish Coffee Festival has now clocked up a long history. “In the present economic climate, it is not easy to gather the sponsorship to keep it free,” she said, making the point that thosethanking all those who had contributed. “We can still claim it is a major fisture on the festival calendar,” she continued.
Comedian Alan Shortt was the compere for the night, introducing and interviewing the four finalists in the championship as they demonstrated their skills, each one of them bringing their own particular style to their demonstration.
For Philip Corbett, the fast-talking representative from Corbett Court in Charleville, the key word was speed. “No customer wants to be waiting 15 or 20 minutes,” he pointed out. But he got laughs too as he slagged off his dad, Declan, who competed for the title last year. Latvian native Karena Malinovska showed a particular talent for floating the cream – pouring it straight from the jug without the benefit of a spoon. The audience waited, expecting the cream to sink, but it didn’t. Dubliner Micheal Griffiths, representing the Maryborough Hotel and Spa in Cork, showed great flair, roasting the coffee beans on stage and adding a dash of whiskey to improve the flavour.
But it was Will Morgan from Jerry Flannery’s bar in Limerick who won the day, and the title with its cheque for €500, trophy, hampers and two return airline tickets to New York. Now that young Jerry has retired from rugby, he told the audience, he is training him in as a barman.
And he explained too to his Munster supporters that he dyes the cream red on days when Munster play. Will Morgan proved a popular winner, and no-one was happier than Jerry Flannery Snr, who admitted he hadn’t expected it.
“Will is a bit of craic,” he enthused. “I didn’t think he would win it but when he puts his mind to anything, he is excellent. He comes up with brilliant ideas for different things. It will be a great thing to add to the business.