Sailors swap sea legs for rainy céilí mór

SAILORS are more used to having sea legs than dancing feet, but participants in the round the world yacht race were still keen to experience céilí culture yesterday.

In the second day of the Cork Clipper Festival’s residence in the city’s harbour, local land-lovers and old sea-dogs locked arms to take part in a midday dance-off at Albert Quay.

The event, organised by members of the Cape Breton yacht and those from the Cork Clipper to celebrate transatlantic Celtic links, took place as the traditional Irish summer weather of drizzling rain and plastic rain-macs replaced the glorious sunshine of previous days.

However, the wet welcome only seemed to add to the participants’ enjoyment as they basked in the weather which this country has become notorious for in dreamy north American minds.

Among the jigs and reels of the céilí contest were Irish set-dance lessons and Cape Breton Square sets from the island of the same name in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Also making an appearance on stage were the fiddle and pipe band The Beaton Sisters, soulful Irish language singer Tara Rankin, a quartet from the Cork Irish Dance Company and set caller William Hammond who also organises the Cork Céilí Mór and Folk Festival.

The Canadian section of the group asked to organise the event as they are committed to improving the wider public’s knowledge of Cape Breton culture, which has strong links to Ireland due to the large number of emigrants in previous centuries and even older shipping and fishing connections.

Joella Foulds, organiser of the tradition’s annual Celtic Colours International Festival, said the welcome the group has received in Kinsale and Cork city over the past week will help to further strengthen cultural and tourism ties with Ireland.

“We had a wonderful welcome in Kinsale over the weekend and we’re looking forward to see if the people of Cork city are even more enthusiastic.

“We want to teach local people that we have a lot in common with the Irish tradition, and hopefully to have the entire Albert Quay filled with people dancing,” she said.

* www.corkclipperfestival.com


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