Gallops, music and gardens beckon in West Cork

There’s gallops on the strand, music in the air and heavenly gardens on display. And that’s just among some of the activities in West Cork this weekend.

The Lislee Derby is the feature race of the Courtmacsherry Strand Races which take place this weekend. Picture: Martin Walsh

At the Innishannon gateway village to one of the country’s beach capitals, a hugely-popular Gardens & Galleries Festival will be held tomorrow and Sunday.

Despite the heatwave, the village is in bloom.

Author Alice Taylor, a local resident and organiser, said: “It’s a great year for the roses. Normally, when you organise an event, you worry about the rain but the heat is amazing and this great spell has brought great togetherness and excitement.

“The good weather spell has put extra pressure on the gardeners but people will understand you can’t have perfection in this heat.”

More than 1,000 people have already signalled their intention to come and visit the 10 spectacular gardens being showcased and the wonderful collections of art. This year, the 1700s-built Market House which is being revamped after being closed for over a half-century, will be one of the focal points of the festival.

A local Garda Barracks garden is one of the new additions to the garden trail for which transport is being organised locally.

It’s the third year of the charity event and in addition to working artists and collection in several venues around the village, the magnificent gardens on display range from cottage to urban and woodland.

Meanwhile, the lifeboat village of Courtmacsherry is making preparations for the annual strand races. The tidal racetrack which is a summertime favourite for punters is being laid out for a seven-race card late on Sunday afternoon

Since its revival in 2000, Courtmacsherry Strand Races has grown in popularity and young jockeys like Wayne Lordan, Jack Kennedy, Philip Enright, Alan Coleman and Jonathan Burke, who all competed there, have since become household names.

A small but hard-working committee will set about marking out the estuary course tomorrow before the tide returns to mask the oval track that, when nature intervenes once more, will feature a race spectacle.

The first race gets underway at 5.30pm on Sunday. The feature event is the Lislee Derby for the O’Donovan Brothers Perpetual Trophy while another attraction is the Maiden race for the John Drake Perpetual Memorial Cup.

And, in Clonakilty, the town is gearing up for the arrival, tomorrow, of some 1,500 musicians and hundreds of more guests and fans of the South of Ireland Band Championships.

A loud, cheerful and very colourful weekend is promised to what are expected to be crowds of visitors, as the Clonakilty Old-Time Fair also takes place tomorrow.

A record number of bands, at 33, including the Tacoma Concert Band from Washington State feature in the 39th Championships. UK-based adjudicators Steve Sykes and Glyn Williams will assess the standard of band musicians from as young as 10 or 11 years of age to people in their 80s.

They will be judging bands from all over Ireland, from Tyrone, Louth, Westmeath and Dublin along with a significant number from Cork, Limerick and Tipperary.



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