A Guide to Festivals in Ireland
A fleadh (pronounced 'fla') is the Irish word for festival; ceol (ce-ole) is the Irish for music. But the Fleadh Ceol, which takes places in the County Offaly town of Tullamore, is as much a competition as it is a festival of Irish traditional music and dance. Individuals and groups - mainly from Ireland, the U.K and the U.S - compete against one another in a range of different categories, playing instruments such as the fiddle, accordion, flute, concertina, uilleann pipes (the national bagpipes of Ireland), harp, mouth organ, banjo and mandolin. It would be hard to get a more authentic experience of Irish culture than the Fleadh Ceol.
Wexford Opera Festival, October 15 - November 1
Wexford, in the 'sunny south east' of the country (well, it's sunny there by Irish standards at least...) is one of the most popular counties with tourists and this opera festival is a popular attraction. Last year saw this festival take place in a new opera house, which by all accounts has been a tremendous success. Ireland's first custom-built Opera House, it is over four times larger than the previous Theatre Royal. Comprising a main auditorium, seating 769 people for opera performances. This year's program has already been announced: Il Cappello di Paglia di Firenze by Nino Rota (who scored the Godfather trilogy), The Ghosts of Versailles by John Corigliano, and Donizetti's Maria Padilla.
Cork Jazz Festival October 23-26
Although 'jazz' mightn't be synonymous with 'Ireland', this is one of Ireland's best established music festivals, first taking place in 1978. Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland after Dublin, and its inhabitants tend to be an extremely proud of their home - with considerably justification. Corkonians resent snooty Dubliners who think of their city as being a provincial backwater- and this jazz festival, one of the city's best known tourist draws, is proof of why they are right.
Puckfair Killorglin August 10-12
The idea is strange, yet simple: every year, a group of people from Killorgin, a town in County Kerry, go to the nearby mountains, the MacGillycuddy's Reeks, to capture a wild goat. The captured goat is then crowned "Kind Puck" in the town by the Queen of the Fair, a local schoolgirl. Then the party begins - for three days, pubs are permitted to say open till 3 am, and it is estimated that around 100,000 people visit the town over the three days. The goat is kept in a cage in the town, and is later released back into the wild.