A Guide to Festivals in Ireland
It is also possible that this festival began in pre-Christian times, to celebrate a successful August harvest. In pagan times, the male goat, or "Puck" was celebrated as a symbol of fertility, like the pagan god Pan.
Matchmaking Festival Lisdoonvarna County Clare September-October 2009
This festival takes places over six weeks during the month of the September and the start of October, in the gorgeous County Clare town of Lisdoonvarna. Historically, this festival helped young Irish men - many of whom would have been working as farmers in isolated rural areas - meet young Irish women. The town even has an official Matchmaker: Willie Daly, who carries on an old family tradition. Today, this festival is a little less about matchmaking and more about music, dance, and good old-fashioned debauchery, Irish style.
The AIB Street Performance World Championship Dublin City June 18-21
Dublin City Center usually has some really good street performers, most famously on the main shopping street, Grafton Street, which is especially famous for its street musicians. But the street performance world championships, which take place in June in Merrion Square, are truly a spectacle to behold. Last year a duo called The English Gents astounded their audience with remarkable feats of strength and agility, using props such as cups of tea and newspapers in a most imaginative way.
Wren's Day Carrigaline 26 December 2008
The big attraction in Carrigaline, County Cork, on St Stephen's Day, December 26th is the annual Wren Boys Street Festival. This is an old Irish tradition, which has largely been forgotten in most other parts of the country: the Celtic myth was that the Robin, which represents the old year, kills the Wren, which represents the new year. "Wren Boys" would go hunting the bird and then go from house to house, singing and dancing for money. In this festival, traditional musicians, singers and dancers in bright colorful costumes and straw suits create great excitement as they entertain the crowds.
There is also a Wren's Day in the West Kerry town of Dingle, where crowds of people take to the streets of Dingle dressed in straw costumes and fancy dress parading the streets accompanied by music dance and song. The different Wrens go from pub to pub playing music while they collect donations for worthy charities.
Smithwick's Cat Laughs Festival Kilkenny May 28-June 1
In recent years, Irish comedy has become increasingly popular, and this comedy festival has established itself as one of the leading comedy festivals in the U.K and Ireland. It takes place in Kilkenny, a very charming midlands town about two hours from Dublin. (Its inhabitants insist on calling it a city because it has a cathedral, much to the amusement of the rest of country.) But whether you want to call it a town and city, Kilkenny is a great place to spend a few days - make sure to visit its Norman castle - and this comedy festival is probably the best time of the year to do so.