Fun in the sun as crowds warm to festival fever

THE country was spoilt for choice when it came to festival fun over the Bank Holiday weekend — and for once the weather didn’t spoil the mood.

Blazing sunshine and soaring temperatures ensured events around the country were thronged with revellers.

One of the biggest bashes of the weekend was the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival in Kilkenny, where more than 30,000 people descended on the Marble City for the four-day event.

International acts like US comic Rich Hall were joined by home-grown stars like Ardal O’Hanlon and Dara Ó Briain as festival-goers basked in tropical temperatures. Organisers laid on four extra gigs as all 85 shows sold out.

Yesterday afternoon also saw the annual soccer match between Irish comics and a world selection, and up to 70 people had to be turned away as the venue was packed to capacity.

More impressively, the post-match press conference featured a satellite link-up with Ireland manager Steve Staunton.

Crowds of up to 40,000 attended the Red Bull Flugtag in Limerick, which saw some brave and some foolhardy competitors launching themselves into the River Shannon in homemade contraptions.

One of the biggest cheers of the afternoon greeted the Munster Flying Jockstrap team from Murroe, Co Limerick.

This crew was piloted by Danny O’Mahony, who said: “We put a lot of effort in getting our craft ready and it’s been great fun.”

Thousands more attended the Garden Party at Ballinlough Castle, Athboy, Co Meath on Saturday, where the likes of dance pioneers The Orb and Asian Dub Foundation entertained the masses.

In Dublin the River Liffey played host to 150,000 plastic ducks set afloat in aid of charity.

The numbered yellow ducks had each been sponsored to the tune of €4, raising €120,000 for Our Ladies Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, where it will go towards a new project aimed at tackling the condition neuroblastoma.

The duck race was also a world-record attempt for the largest ever plastic duck race, but as the event took place between low and high tide the “competitors” were unable to travel the kilometre distance required.

The Liffey is also the setting for the Docklands Maritime Festival, which opened on Saturday and ends today.

Among the attractions are six visiting ships, including the Jeanie Johnston, and comedy and music shows.

It was an altogether noisier affair in Milltown in Co Kerry, where the first ever World Bodhran Championships took place.

Fifty competitors from as far afield as the US and Germany entered the competition, with six finalists doing battle last night to win the trophy.

Up to 10,000 people visited the town to watch the action on a gig rig in the town on Saturday, and a similar crowd was present yesterday.

In Cork the sun shone for a series of Gay Pride events, including the first ever Cork Pride Parade which went through the city centre yesterday afternoon. Events in Cork followed a Midsummer Ball on Saturday night at Dublin’s Mansion House organised by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LBGT) section of the Labour Party in support of Katherine Zappone and Ann-Louise Gilligan, and their campaign for legal recognition of same sex partnerships.

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