SUMMER kicks off in Cork and Kerry today with a bumper weekend of festivals and two marathons.
Thousands of visitors are expected to attend events all over the county across this bank holiday weekend generating an estimated €100 million for the local economy.
The highlights will be the Ocean to City race tomorrow and the Champion Sports City Marathon on Monday.
The Ocean to City race organised by Meitheal Mara, Cork’s Traditional Boat Builders, starts in Crosshaven at 9.30am and will follow the 15-mile course right in to the heart of the city at Lapps Quay.
The best viewing spots will be the green at Castle Point in Crosshaven, from Camden Fort car park, from Cobh, Monkstown, the pier at Blackrock and the Marina, and the finish line at Lapps Quay.
Up to 8,00 runners — 2,000 individuals and 1,200 relay teams — ranging in age from 18 to 91 will take part in the marathon on Monday.
Runners to look out for include 72-year old Catherine O’Regan from Enniscorthy who will be competing in her 86th marathon, Cork man Pat Cadogan, 70, fresh from the Boston Marathon hopes to break the €17,000 fundraising mark for the Cork Cancer Research Centre.
Sumo wrestling Cork solicitor Colin Carroll will also attempt to complete a three-legged marathon for the Guinness Book of Records.
The runners will be treated to a pasta party, to help build up their energy levels, by Claire Nash and her team at Nash 19 restaurant on Sunday evening.
“Cork is the capital of food in Ireland and we wanted to showcase the fantastic ingredients we have available in the city,” Ms Nash said.
“The pasta we’ll be serving on the night is a hand-made organic Martelli Pasta which is dried in the fresh air.”
The athletes will tuck into fresh basil pesto, Irish tomatoes and herb sauce and Ms Nash’s exclusive Nash 19 To Go olive oil from the Dolcedo Riviera.
Ms Nash, who is also president of the Cork Business Association, said the marathon will be a huge boast to the city.
“The marathon places Cork on the map as a primary destination for holidaymakers, visitors and locals who are looking for a fun-filled weekend when they choose where to go over a Bank Holiday,” she said.
A food market will also be set up in Bishop Lucy Park.
In Bandon, up to 20,000 people are expected to attend the town’s 12th Music Festival which kicks off tonight.
Three of Ireland’s hottest live music acts — Meteor Award winners Delorentos and The Blizzards will headline along with The Republic of Loose — on the free gig rig.
Free concerts will take place all weekend on Allen Square, with free music in pubs on the music trail.
Cobh will host its Maritime Song Festival celebrating maritime music and its history.
Former Planxty heroes Andy Irvine and Johnny Moynihan will be among the highlights.
Johnny opens the festival at the Sirius Arts Centre at 7.30pm tonight with his band Moonshine.
It will be Andy’s turn tomorrow night when Patrick Street headline the event at the Cobh Heritage Centre.
The town will also host a pipe and drum band competition over the weekend.
The 11th Innishannon Steam and Vintage Rally takes place on Sunday and Monday on the Higgins’ family 38-acre site just outside the village.
Last year, the event raised €120,000 for the Irish Cancer Society. It is hoped to top that amount this year.
Meanwhile, the World Bodhrán Championships, in Milltown, will be one of the crowd-pulling events in Kerry during the weekend.
While Milltown itself will be the centre of activities, with workshops, music and dancing, a concert by The Chieftains will also be a big attraction in nearby Killorglin.
Traditional music lovers will also be drawn to Kilgarvan for a weekend of Irish music.
Lovers of the great outdoors will have plenty to do in Killarney which has a programme of organised walks through well-known beauty spots such as Muckross, Ross Castle, Tomies and the Gap of Dunloe during the weekend.
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