In our unique heatwave, there is a growing shortage of water nationally but, by heavens, there is no scarcity at all of midsummer craic and festivalia. A real lava of levity and laughter and pure joy at about every level.
If the Slieve Bloom mountains in the Midlands are ablaze as I write, with the Army called in to assist the firefighters, and many mountain fires elsewhere from the searing heat, that is somehow indicative of a normally wet little island celebrating the season with bonfires.
Lucky are ye out there in the diaspora who have an upcoming vacation soon on the Emerald Isle homeland of so many of your ancestors. I’ve never relished a merrier midsummer, and I’ve seen a fair few of them at this stage.
It’s mighty craic altogether. Get here as quick as you can.
Every second parish in the country has a festival in full swing just now and for the weeks ahead. Just a sample of what is happening: the Munster Fleadh has packed the streets of Ireland’s friendliest town of Ennis with revelers from all over the province and beyond. The music, singing and dancing never stops, both indoors and outdoors, and the celebrations will continue for at least a fortnight.
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Munster Fleadh in Ennis ‘will be the biggest one ever’ https://t.co/tbVa6as2qt pic.twitter.com/UXJ5VQN00S— The Clare Echo (@ClareEcho) July 11, 2018
Meanwhile, the fabled Willie Clancy Summer School is running in Miltownmalbay just down the road, and that always attracts the most famed musicians, singers, dancers and storytellers amongst us. Elements of what is called locally the Willie Week remind me strongly of the fine Irish festival above in the Catskills over New York which I had the pleasure of experiencing a few seasons ago. Indeed many of those playing and singing during Willie Week are also regulars up in the Catskills when the craic starts sizzling there this week.
When I talk about a real explosion of festival fever this 2018 I mean it. Quite apart from the heatwave that will go into history in the same fashion as the Night of the Big Wind well over a century ago now, there is current relief in the land about the ending of the economic recession which hit us all so hard for more than a decade and that is to be celebrated fully.
Unemployment is at its lowest for a long time, there is an inward investment flow, there are signals that the troublesome Brexit situation triggered by the Brits may be resolved in a way that does not hurt us economically or bring back a hard border, and so the dancing and music and singing inside the big white marquees in about every parish, as the sun shines on, is a summer celebration of better times ahead.
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There is no indication that a certain powerful politician whose hair is the color of the evening sun will visit this summer, and that is the best of news too. We have better things to do than organize protest marches. It is too hot for that kind of thing.
So the merrymaking runs high all through the island, all the way up the silver Shannon from my town of Killaloe, where a Brian Boru festival is mighty altogether, up to Carrick-on-Shannon in Leitrim, where there is a Festival of the Waters within a few miles of the mysterious little Shannon Pot believed to be the source of our most beautiful river.
The water authorities may be concerned about maintaining supplies but there is no scarcity at all of porter and beer and wine and anything else alcoholic, or non-alcoholic for that matter, to keep one hydrated to keep up with the celebrating throngs everywhere.
So have a go yourselves from the minute you touch down, ideally in Shannon in the lovely west or Cork in the deep south. Incidentally, I don’t think I mentioned that Galway, the incoming European Capital of Culture city, is already getting into the swing of that honor, and no folk can celebrate life as fully as the Tribesmen.
The World Cup in Russia has been making international headlines but many of us here, as ye will discover quickly, are more viscerally interested in the hurling and football exploits on the GAA fields. Already in the provincial finals in both codes, there have been thrilling clashes which, for sheer excitement, provide infinitely more than many of the World Cup games to date.
All-Ireland champions Galway from last year, competing in Leinster, played out a draw with the legendary Kilkenny Cats which was so fast and skillful it would nearly take the sight from your eyes, and finally beat them on Sunday.
And there is much more to come before Sam Maguire and Liam MacCarthy (the fabled trophies involved) are brought home triumphantly by the champions in the fall.
Meanwhile, there are a lot of musics to be played, dances danced, songs sung at full volume, a lot of festivals and fleadhanna to be relished to the limit, and I know ye won’t mind at all if I conclude here and head out under my hat to enjoy the Brian Boru craic up the hill at our own festival.
What's your favorite things about Ireland in the summertime? Let us know in the comments section, below.