Revellers get a jump on summer fun

IT HAS been a weekend for everybody.

Eclectic music in Bandon, beating bodhráns in Milltown Co Kerry, comedy in Kilkenny and a flutter on the horses at the races in Kilbeggan.

On Noreside, 30,000 people gathered for the annual Cat Laughs festival to hear the likes of Des Bishop, Ed Byrne and Rich Hall.

In Bandon, 20,000 revellers enjoyed a free music festival with headline acts including Meteor Award winners The Blizzards, The Republic of Loose and Dublin band the Delorentos.

A mix of contemporary, trad and rock, the Bandon Music Festival has a reputation for being one of the best music festivals in the country.

Festival chairwoman Carmel Nyhan said: “We’re delighted with the line-up and we got a great boost when two of the performing bands received Meteor Awards earlier this year.”

Football can be a funny old game — especially when it’s played by a bunch of madcap comedians from around the world. Ireland’s finest comics took on the rest of the world at the Cat Laughs comedy festival in Kilkenny. The 14th annual event, which closes today, featured more than 100 shows by 70 comedians in pubs and venues across the Marble City.

Tommy Tiernan, who was said to have upset gig goers with a joke about missing Madeleine McCann on Saturday, put on an extra show to the delight of fans last night.

US comedy vet Rich Hall, Australia’s Greg Fleet and Ireland’s Kevin Gildea tried to stir things up at the Dark Show, where comedians use material they thought they’d never get away with.

Des Bishop, Jason Byrne and Ardal O’Hanlon were among the leading Irish comedians to perform with overseas artists including Reginald D Hunter from the US, Shappi Khorsandi and Lee Mack from Britain and Scotland’s Craig Hill.

Up to 30,000 comedy fans made the trip to Kilkenny for the five-day laugh fest.

“It’s been a brilliant festival,” said Cat Laughs producer Lynn Cahill.

“Comedians love playing here, they treat it like a playground and the fans have been absolutely brilliant.

“This is a hugely important festival for Kilkenny and we’re looking forward to 2009 already,” she said.

More than 5,000 rock fans started the long trek home last night as the first of the summer’s open-air music weekends, the Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival, came to an end after four days in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal. In the main, fans were well-behaved but there were six public order arrests and 10 drugs arrests, mainly for possession of cannabis.

More than 25 bands took to stages in a combination of free street and pub concerts as well as paid theatre shows to entertain fans from as far away as Australia and the US. Headline group, the Julian Sas Band from Holland which, together with The Loop from Germany, played the final gig in the town last night

X Factor star Tabby Callaghan, and his band from Sligo drew wild applause on Saturday night while The Deans from Athenry were one of the main attractions earlier the same day.

At the outset of the festival, the seventh successive one in the town where Rory Gallagher was born 60 years ago, the local council honoured him with a posthumous Freedom of Ballyshannon.

The award was accepted by his brother Donal.

Further south the Garadice Lake Triathlon took place in Leitrim yesterday.

Elsewhere the 21st Blue Jean Country Festival was in Athboy, Co Meath, and the Festival by the Sea opened in Rosscarbery, west Cork.

The horseracing moves from Westmeath to Listowel today but it will be the two-footed sprinters who will dominate the day.

Later this morning, more than 40,000 women will take to the streets of Dublin for the largest charity fundraiser of the year — the 25th Flora women’s mini-marathon.

Gardaí and the AA have warned motorists roads will begin to be closed around the city centre from 6am onwards and anybody commuting should look at public transport options.

In Cork, the more strenuous Champion Sports full marathon will be held for the second time and the starter’s pistol will fire at 9am.

The marathon begins and finishes on Patrick’s Street. It heads north to Blackpool before returning along the northern quays of the River Lee, past the Lower Glanmire Road before entering the Jack Lynch Tunnel.

The race then heads towards Blackrock, Turner’s Cross, Ballyphehane and the Lough.

The final stretch of the 26.2-mile race brings the race along the Western Road, crossing Slí Cumann na mBan and onto the North Mall, along Pope’s Quay to the finish line on St Patrick’s Street.

Motorists are urged to use the North and South Ring Roads, which will give access to most parts of the city and suburbs. St Patrick’s Street, and all access streets to it, will be reopened after 5pm. Traffic bypassing the city should use the North and South Link Roads.

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