Maritime festival kicks off bumper bank holiday weekend fun

One of Ireland’s largest maritime festivals kicks off in Cork tonight marking the start of a bumper bank holiday weekend of water and land-based activity.

But while the weather forecast is good until tomorrow, the message from Met Éireann is to make the most of it — rain is forecast on Sunday and Monday.

Up to 400 rowers from all over Europe have gathered in the southern capital ahead of tomorrow’s massive Rás Mór – the centrepiece of this year’s week-long Ocean to City Maritime Festival.

They will row a selection of currachs, Irish coastal rowing boats, Bantry Bay longboats, kayaks, Cornish pilot gigs and Chinese Dragon boats over 15 nautical miles from Crosshaven right up Cork Harbour, via Cobh, Monkstown, Passage and Blackrock to the finish line at Lapps Quay in the city centre.

The race starts in Crosshaven at 10.30am with the first boats expected to cross the line at 2pm.

The Lapps Quay boardwalk will host on-street entertainment, food markets and live music.

Events will continue right through next week with special deals on angling charters available on Monday, with sailings from Cobh, Monkstown, Crosshaven and Lower Aghada, a screening of maritime films in the Triskel next Thursday, the Cork Harbour Summer School next Friday, and a model boat-building event for kids at the Atlantic Pond next weekend.

The Innishannon Steam and Vintage Rally takes place on Sunday and Monday, the Festival By the Sea takes place in Rosscarbery across the weekend, the Kinsale Point to Point is being staged on Saturday and Sunday, and the annual Corpus Christi religious procession will take place in the city centre on Sunday.

In Youghal, the All4Youghal community group will host its second Teddy Bears’ Picnic in ’98 Memorial Park (Green Park) from 2pm on Sunday, with the town’s Claycastle Pitch and Putt club also hosting the National Matchplay Championship.

The Voice of Ireland judge and former Blizzards frontman Bressie will headline the Bandon Music Festival on Saturday with support from The Hard Ground, in the Shambles area of the town.

Gates open at 7pm, with Bressie due on stage around 9.30pm.

Cork-based Indie band Fred will headline on Sunday night with support from J90. Tickets are on sale from tickets.ie or from O’Farrell’s newsagents in the town.

And major traffic diversions will be in place across Cork City from early on Monday ahead of this year’s marathon.

In Kerry, thousands of bike fans are due in Killarney for Ireland Bike Fest 2012 — said to be country’s largest open biker festival.

A bike village at the Gleneagle Hotel will be the headquarters for all makes and models of motorbike, the sale of specialised clothing, as well as displays, technical areas and free Harley Davidson demo rides.

There will also be a custom bike show and the Harley-Davidson Jumpstart Rider Experience. There will be a chance to win a Harley in a fundraiser for Muscular Distrophy Ireland.

Caherciveen will host its first Wild West Festival, with shoot-outs, a staged robbery, gambling in saloons and a visit from the Lizard Cowboy and the Burlesque Belles over the weekend. It will be launched this evening by Met Éireann forecaster Evelyn Cusack.

The festival will also feature a quick draw contest on Sunday afternoon.

The literati will continue to flock to Listowel for Writers’ Week, which continues until Sunday with special events to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of local literary legend John B Keane.

Traditional music lovers will be heading to Kilgarvan for an annual weekend of ceol, ól agus craic, organised by local publicans.

Among the entertainers will be Sean Garvey, Joe Thoma, Derek Hickey, Jonathan Roche, Eamon Casey and Padraig Creedon. There will be workshops for adults and children.

Round-up of events

* Writers’ Week, Listowel: The festival continues until Sunday with events tonight including a reading by Paul Durcan, a cinematic tribute to John B Keane, and a concert by Duke Special.

* Bloom Festival, Dublin: Up to 90,000 people are expected to visit the garden, food and family festival in the Phoenix Park. There are 27 show gardens, 100 Irish food and drink displays, 40 nurseries and 25 cookery demonstrations.

* Cat Laughs, Kilkenny: Jack Dee helped kick the comedy festival off last night. Others on stage this weekend include Des Bishop, Neil Delamere, Milton Jones, Jason Byrne, Barry Murphy, David O’Doherty, Simon Amstell and Al Murray. Over 30,000 visitors are expected, generating about €8m locally.

* Strawberry Fest, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford: The family event features a Wexfactor Music Talent competition for the U25s and a chalkboard artist and buskers trail. Music on Saturday features Status, while Bressie and The Saw Doctors appear on Sunday.

* Doonbeg, Co Clare: The village will host its 13th international jazz festival.

* Ballyshannon, Co Donegal: The town is set to rock for the annual Rory Gallagher international tribute festival. Over 30 rock and blues acts.

* Lismore Co Waterford: The 3rd annual Lismore Music Festival takes place in the grounds of Lismore Castle, including two performances of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, featuring Puerto Rican tenor Javier Abrue.

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