Castleisland Summer Fest Putting Down Markers for the Future

Local women, Mary O’Sullivan (left) pictured with Ann Mitchell, Margaret McSweeney and her daughter, Patricia heading for the Joe Dolan Tribute Concert on Castleisland’s Lower Main Street on Friday evening. ©Photograph: john Reidy
Members of Castleisland Racing Festival Ltd who organised and stewarded the town’s Summer Fest.  Cllr. Charlie Farrelly (left) is pictured with: Pat Hartnett, Kay Reidy, Denny Greaney and Mags O’Sullivan.  ©Photograph: John Reidy
A Woman’s World: Staff of Muire Gan Smál on an end of term night out and taking part in the Castleisland Street Festival on Friday night. Included are from left: Rachel O’Connell, Christina Galvin, Aga Beck Danowska, Anne Curtin, Melissa O’Connell, Emma Kelly, Claire Smith, Norma Nolan-Moran and Martha O’Mahony. ©Photograph: John Reidy

There was clear evidence of pure enjoyment on the town’s Main Street during last weekend’s festival organised and run by members of the Castleisland Racing Festival Ltd.

While enjoyment may be hard to quantify and is something that has to be felt or seen at first hand, there was an element of the festival which readily lent itself to quantification.

The committee volunteers, fresh from their Friday evening success with the Humphrey Murphy 5K Road Race and the street based Joe Dolan tribute show, gathered €3,622 for Recovery Haven by way of a bucket collection on Saturday from 10am to 4pm.

A Minute’s Silence

At the start of the Humphrey Murphy 5K near the Castleisland Desmonds GAA Club grounds at Moanmore, committee Chairman, Cllr. Charlie Farrelly called for a minute of silence for the late Humphrey who died in a workplace accident in May 2011 and his late father Leo who died last summer.

Leo had been the designated race starter since the event was founded in June 2012 and up to 2020 and the Covid-19 era.

Another member of the Murphy family, John – Humphrey’s brother and his wife Mary did the honours on this occasion.

Humphrey Murphy Memorial Cup

The locally based Stephen Moore and Siobhán Daly won the men’s and women’s races and Siobhán took home the fine Humphrey Murphy Memorial Cup for her efforts.

The proceeds from the race will go to a charity for which Humphrey ran many a mile on local roads in training and on roads elsewhere on which he earned the sponsorship cash for Glebe Lodge Residential Centre in Kilbanivane.

There was a distinct atmosphere of enjoyment and entertainment and of ‘something to go to’ on the street on Friday night after the road race.

Joe Dolan Tribute

As soon as Paschal Brennan opened up with his Joe Dolan tribute show on the gig rig on the closed off portion of Lower Main Street, chairs and seats began to appear on the median strip and people, mainly women, began to dance on the ideal space created specially for the event.

Apart from having something to go to, people expressed their delight at being able to congregate again and to mingle and chat – something that was taken for granted before the blight descended on all such gatherings

€165,000 for Local Charities

Castleisland Racing Festival Ltd – the voluntary group which organises these events and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Drive-In Bingo – when it was permitted, has now edged close to a figure of €165,000 raised for local charities.

They disperse the funding by means of inviting submissions from the charities and they make their decisions based on those submissions.

Tour of the Town

On Saturday, Eamon Fleming and myself conducted a historical tour of the town from 4.45pm.

We set out from The Forge as I had a mission to accomplish from there in which I hoped to reunite an estimated century old ball-peen hammer with the anvil at The Forge.

That anvil was from Mac’s Forge which operated at the Market Cross. As a young blacksmith striking out on his own from his family of smiths in Ballymacelligott, my grandfather, Johnny Reidy worked there for a while before opening his own forge at the other end of the town on the corner of College Road.

Tadhg’s great-grandmother, Nell Mac / McGillicuddy nee Reidy and my grandfather were cousins and that anvil and that hammer would have contributed, in their time, to the ringing sound which, added to that of the railway yard across the street, was part of the ambience or soundtrack of that area of town for the best part of a century.

Hammer and Punch

I wanted to recreate that sound and Saturday’s little interlude closed that loop and I left the hammer and a punch, which also belonged to my grandfather, with Tadhg at The Forge.

Eamon Fleming’s knowledge of local styles of architecture and vernacular buildings is impressive and we wove our way through the town with a tour of over 30 within the time constraints we were under.

At 6pm there was a showing of Rob McGuire’s Castle of the Island documentary which was also well attended.

It was a very welcome weekend of events after all we’ve been through over the last couple of years and, from what I can gather, it has set a pattern for bigger and better things for future summer fests in The Island.

Neil Browne’s Power Supply

The Summer Fest was sponsored by: NEWKD; Cara Credit Union and local businesses Cllr. Farrelly wishes to thank all their stewards and supporters and he reserved a special thank you to Neil Browne who supplied the electricity to the gig rig from his own resources and donated it to the festival committee.

Races Postponed Indefinitely

The Castleisland Races meeting, which was originally proposed as a closing event for the festival Sunday has had to be postponed indefinitely because of insurance difficulties being experienced on a country-wide basis by the Irish Horse and Pony Racing Association.

It is hoped that the current difficulties can be overcome by the association and that the Castleisland Races can be held later in the year.

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