Weekend festivities begin on a high note

Cork City is alive to the sound of music this weekend but there are dozens of other events throughout the South-West to whet the appetite of bank holiday visitors and revellers.

More than 4,500 singers from all over the world are currently in the city, participating in the 58th annual international choral festival.

The festival involves over 80 events, the vast majority free to the public.

The competitive highlight is the Fleischmann International Trophy Competition, with 12 top international choirs from as far away as Philippines and Singapore competing for one of the most prestigious prizes in European choral music.

And, for those with other musical tastes, Ballydehob is a must for lovers of jazz.

The West Cork village’s jazz festival, now in its sixth year, runs until Monday, with most of the events in pubs and on the streets.

Sax player Sam Hudson and drummer Karl Penney take a trip down memory lane when they perform in their old schoolhouse.

The duo, who make up half of the acclaimed Sam Hudson Quartet, will be in concert at 7pm tomorrow night at St Matthias’ School — where they both received their primary education.

Numbers are expected to be up this year, given the extra attraction of renowned jazz musician Paddy Cole, who, along with the Cork City Jazz Band, headlines tomorrow night’s bill at the village community hall and internationally acclaimed chanteuse Camille O’Sullivan, will perform in the hall on Sunday night.

And to mark the beginning of summer, Dingle’s annual Féile na Bealtaine, already under way, features poetry, painting, piano, and plays, along with the usual mix of politics, in Irish and English. There is even a chocolate-making demonstration and warm memories of its inspirational founder, local GP and poet Micheal Fanning.

The festival is heavily musical this year, fun music that is, a reflection perhaps of Peadar O’Fionnáin, the doctor’s son who is an accomplished musician and is “feidhmí” or chief functionary this year.

There is plenty of jazz, harmony and string too with The Candidates, the RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet, Dublin Quartet, Women in Jazz, the Foghorn Stringband, harmonists The Lost Brothers the Gentlemen Singers, Feast of the Senses, and more.

For all tastes, the annual Funk Ball on Sunday promises to be another sellout — and bringing a piece of west Africa to west Kerry will be the nine-piece Mose Fan Fan and Full Band from Congo on the night.

Brainboxes, meanwhile, will pack Cork’s harbour town of Cobh this weekend as it hosts the Mensa International conference.

About 105 delegates from the US, Holland, and Denmark will descend on the town for what the local chamber of commerce hope will help promote the harbour town as an ideal conference venue.

Gerard Heaney, who is organising the Mensa international conference, said Ireland had the highest number of Mensa members per head of population of anywhere in the world.

“Around 2% of the population would qualify as a Mensa member. There are two different tests run by UCC to qualify for Mensa,” Mr Heaney said.

And in mid-Cork, blacksmiths will rub shoulders with potters and basket-makers at a traditional fair at the 500-acre Millstreet Country Park over the weekend.

The Traditional Crafts and Blacksmithing Fair, which runs until Sunday next, will feature a working forge where members of the Irish Artist Blacksmiths Association will demonstrate their skills using the anvil, the hammer, and the forge fire.

Other craftspeople, skilled in the art of making everything from súgan chairs to willow baskets, leatherworks, pottery, and stone sculptures will also be providing demonstrations of their work.

Meanwhile, a reported 8,500 participants from all over the world are making final preparations for the Great Limerick Run on Sunday.

Now in its third year, the event is already becoming synonymous with May bank holiday weekend festivities in Limerick City.

Participants can sign up for the six-mile race, a half-marathon, or a full marathon, with registration closing on Saturday. A number of charities are set to benefit through a participant sponsorship programme.

In Kinsale, the annual Sevens event will feature up to 90 rugby teams,

They include players from New Zealand, Samoa and Fiji as well as a host of countries across Europe.


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