Entertaining the crowds at the TomCat Festival on Thomas Street was Baz Burke Picture: Gareth Williams
FOR those of you who missed it, let me tell you that something special happened in Limerick over the June Bank Holiday weekend.
The weather, of course, helped but this year’s Tiger TomCat Street Festival deserves to get a positive mention.
TomCat has been running for three years. The festival is a collaboration between businesses based in the Thomas St and Catherine St area of the city.
Led by Deirdre Martin, Ken Coleman, Neville Gawley and Kevin Kiely Jnr, this year’s event brought a real sense of joy, festivity and friendliness to our city centre.
From hip hop to jazz; classical to dance, the streets were filled with upbeat sounds.
Visitors to our city were greeted with oversized deck chairs, giant benches, huge inflatable snakes emerging from enormous wooden containers. There was a piano on the street.
Children took turns on the trampolines located outside Brown Thomas. R2D2 and BB-8 randomly appeared at various locations to the delight of shoppers. There were fussball tournaments, impromptu poetry performances, live Shakespearean sonnet readings, printmaking workshops, wellbeing ceramics classes, clowns and DJ sets.
TomCat is a festival that is run by a team of local volunteers and is not funded by our official bodies. The only official sponsor has been Tiger Beer, without whom this festival could not take place.
Going forward I believe this festival deserves the support of other sponsors and partners.
TomCat has huge potential. Everything that took place put a smile on your face. It was safe, there was something for everybody. It was about showcasing our city and its talent.
As the third city in Ireland, Limerick has struggled over the years to generate home grown festivals to match other cities in Ireland.
Last month I wrote in this column celebrating the fact the Riverfest 2016 finally showed the potential to develop into the future.
Limerick cannot go to sleep for the rest of the year following the May Bank Holiday. We are bidding for European Capital of Culture in 2020. We must have the vision to develop other festivals over the course of the year.
These festivals must be creative, eclectic, visionary and led by the local community. Most importantly they must be given the support of bodies such as the local authority, Failte Ireland and the business community in the city.
TomCat is an example of a festival that has grown into something that now should be noticed by the powers that be. With little or no public support, they have tapped into the energy of modern day Limerick.
TomCat is as far from vanilla as you get. It is quirky, fresh, youthful, energetic and hip - all words currently being used by certain parties to sell our city these days.
I believe that the team behind TomCat have proved they have what it takes to create a festival that is fresh and unique. We should now be supporting them to develop the festival further.
The potential is huge.
Street food market a top idea
Congratulations to the local authority who have hit the nail on the head with the introduction of the street food market that will take place along the newly developed waterfront every Wednesday throughout the summer.
We all are aware of the potential of our waterfront and the introduction of this market mid-week is a very welcome addition to our event calendar.
It is also worth noting that the Hunt Museum is now presenting live jazz every Thursday lunchtime. Anyone who hasn’t experienced the garden of the museum on a sunny afternoon is really missing a trick.
Small events like these really complement the other amenities our city boasts during the summer months. Our parks, our urban gardens, our waterfront and our public spaces are maintained beautifully by the parks department at the local authority.
These spaces are there for our use. Events such as the food market, the lunchtimes jazz and other pop up events all add to the overall urban experience.
Urban food fest a tasty prospect
On Thursday June 16, for one night only, the Milk Market is being transformed into a street food Mecca for ‘Urban Food Fest’, as producers, market traders, restaurants, and hotels come together for a unique Limerick food event.
The event will be free to enter, and guests will purchase tokens as currency to enable them to sample taster plates from various stalls (€15 for five tokens).
Urban Food Fest will take place in the Milk Market from 6pm until 10pm as the venue will be transformed to create a unique and festive evening atmosphere that will showcase some of the best food and drink Limerick has to offer.
Inspired by the culture of international street food, the food offering will also have an Irish twist and everything will be local including meat skewers hot off the grill, freshly rolled sushi, pulled Limerick pork, steaming paella and more with over 20 Limerick food businesses taking part.
There will be games for the kids too and entertainment will be courtesy of The Limerick Lady female-fronted event of music, poetry, and dance.