ABBEYFEALE has stolen a march on the rest of the country and has built a new community festival on the foundation laid down by the nationwide Gathering 2013.
And while the Government continues to discuss the possibility of another Gathering, Abbeyfeale has simply gone ahead and done it.
“We started in 2013 and there was such a feel-good factor and such a very positive response, we decided to keep going,” Orla Dennison, chairperson of this year’s Gather by the Feale committee explained.
“This is now year three and we have gotten a lot of support.”
But this year’s community festival, from July 16 to 19, marks a big leap forward for the organisers who have planned a number of new and exciting events.
“We decided we wanted to try and get more people into the town and the only way to do that was to offer something new that the town hadn’t had before,” Ms Dennison said.
Chief among the novel offerings is a gig in the marquee tent with Limerick band Hermitage Green as the headline act.
“That was a very good call,” Ms Dennison said with satisfaction, pointing out that the band have just been signed with Sony, has appeared on Miriam O’Callaghan’s Saturday Night Show and are about to embark on a ground-breaking American tour.
Hermitage Green will play on Saturday, July 18 with local band No Direction also taking to the stage.
But there are other new gems in this year’s line-up, such as the Cinema under the Stars where families are urged to bring their blankets, torches and camping chairs for an outdoor showing of The Lion King.
And there is great glee among the organisers to be welcoming carnival fun back to the centre of Abbeyfeale.
“There hasn’t been a fun fair in the town for the best part of 25 years,” Ms Dennison said.
But John Turbit of Spin City Carnival is planning to change all that and will set up in the Square.
“He is very keen to get carnivals back to the old locations,” Ms Dennison added.
The inaugural Soap Box Derby on The Hill is already causing a stir as would-be participants hammer and glue their contraptions together.
Meanwhile, many of the events which proved very popular in previous years will also make a return. The Battle of the Feale, involving local businesses and teams, is set to take place in the Square on Friday, July 17 and this year the Battle of the DJs takes place in the festival marquee.
The Bat Walk in the Town Park which attracted hundreds in previous years is back along with a farmers’ market with arts and crafts, a visit to Fitzgerald’s Stables, a children’s fancy dress,a darts tournament and a family fun day on July 19.
Local pubs have also organised live music sessions over the weekend and this year, for the first time, there will be a festival marquee in The Grove. Local sponsors have been very generous, Ms Dennison said, and a number of successful fund-raisers during the year have helped to bankroll the festival.
But they have pitched the price of admission wrist bands at just €5 in order to put it within reach of everybody.
Tickets for Hermitage Green cost just €20 and includes a wristband.