Following the spectacular success of last year’s Medieval festival, the committee have expanded the festival to a five day event from Friday 11th August to Tuesday 15th August (Lady’s Day).
The festival is being opened by the very popular local president of Macra na Feirme – Joe Healy. The Máimín Cajun Band is returning by popular request to play at the festival’s opening night Friday 11th August.
Among this year’s highlights is a medieval hurling match involving St. Mary’s Hurling club, using specially made old style hurleys and the 2l aside teams will be dressed in appropriate garb. On Sunday August 13th there will be a grand parade at 2 pm. followed by the Medieval Faire. As usual, a host of medieval characters will wander through the park including a stilt-walker, jugglers, pedlars, lepers, astrologers, strolling players, merchants and their wives, puppeteers, Irish warriors and Norman knights and of course the King and Queen of Athenry.
The F.C.A in their incarnation as Norman foot soldiers will change the guard at the Castle at regular intervals.
Once again there will be a spectacular Jousting display by the Knights of Athenry.
Over 30 local craftworkers will exhibit and sell their unique wares including: pottery, baskets, leather ware (annulets and gauntlets), papier mache, home made candles, dried flowers and herbs, organic food, jewellery and carving. A wood tumer, a blacksmith, a thatcher and many other craftspeople will be at work.
Irish night on August l3th will feature one of the most popular Irish traditional groups – Sean Keane and his band. This is a band not to be missed. Bill 0’Toole and Sean Flanagan will be among the many guest musicians appearing on stage. Some of the other music featured is Joe Berney and Jazz Mania who will play in the Square after the concelebrated Mass at Lady’s Well on August l5th. Rhythm Method, Steam Guzzlers, Blue Ridge County and Joe Glynn and his band Irish Mist (who are flying in from Boston to close the festival) are among the groups participating.
Making costumes for the festival are: Back – Ena O’Grady, Mary McGovern, Catherine Brady Front – Ann Rabbitt, Ann Quinn and Joy McNamara
A new departure this year is Athenry Drama Group’s presentation of Lady Gregory’s SPREADING THE NEWS – an open air presentation in the Square on Monday l4th August at 8.30 pm. Not to be missed!
Two of the festival days will be devoted to children’s events, Saturday l2th and Monday 14th. These two days promise to be loads of fun. On Saturday there is a Treasure Hunt and a Teddy Bear’s picnic. Fun sports commencing at 2.00 pm. on Monday includes an obstacle race and tug o’ war.
The amazing Medieval Drama Group – The Linenhoods from Castlebar will perform ‘Purrfect’ a play for children in the Community Hall at 4 pm. on Monday.
There will be a pavement painting competition on Tuesday morning. Pat Bracken will perform his wonderful Puppet Shows on both Saturday and Sunday.
One of this year’s children’s new events is a gala Pet Show on Saturday 12th August. All children are invited to beg, borrow, or steal a pet for the occasion and there will be loads of prizes. There will be pony rides, pony and cart rides, a magic show with Mr. Razzel Dazzle, puppetry with Pat Bracken, and face painting. Start training your pets now – there will be a prize for the pet with the most tricks. A baby show will be held on Sunday l3th August at l pm.
A car Treasure Hunt organised by Farrell Insurance will once again be a highly popular event. Rugby, camogie and soccer matches are being arranged. An angling competition will be part of the fun. There will be an exhibition of patchwork and lace-making in the Castle courtesy of the I.C.A. The success of the Normans in the Battle of Athenry last year was the cause of much concern locally and the Irish have sworn revenge. This year’s battle is the re-enactment of the sacking of Athenry by Red Hugh O’Donnell and his troops in l597. Will he succeed in ‘taking the castle’?
Watch out for fireworks at 8 pm. on l5th August. The festival will close with a spectacular fireworks display by Theatre of Fire Company.
This Medieval Festival will bring past and present together in a unique celebration of the town’s living heritage and creativity.
The committee would like to thank Guinness Group Sales – its major sponsor, Galway County Council for its continuing faith in them, Conradh na Gaeilge and local businesses.
The committee would especially like to thank the people of Athenry for their continuing support and generous sponsorship.
Written by Madelyn Brody
Published here 08 Feb 2021 and originally published August 1995
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