Community spirit - Festivals the real riches of our nation

THOUGH they are not a peculiarly Irish institution we have infused them with a flavour and vigour uniquely our own.

Part mardi gras, part business bonanza, part tourist attraction and often a way to remember an artist or — like the numerous steam fairs — to celebrate a lifestyle long gone, they are all a celebration of community.

Be they the grandest of affairs or simple, local gatherings, they are events that unite, advance and more often than not bring great pleasure to the participants.

Very often horses are the focus — as they were at the Galway Races and are at the Dublin Horse Show — sometimes it’s boats, such as Galway’s Cruinniú na mBád this weekend or Calves Week in Schull, and even a goat can take centre stage, as one will this weekend in Kerry where Puck will be crowned at Killorglin.

Music is often the catalyst and often these events afford an opportunity for audiences and performers who might not ordinarily meet to share the pleasures of performance.

They invariably enhance our well-being and add greatly to the jollity of the nation.

To those who, professionally or voluntarily, organise these events we say: congratulations and thank you. To those of you who participate we say: enjoy.

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