Durrow punches above weight

DURROW has launched its Arts and Irish Festival with the help of special guest, novelist Deirdre Purcell who spoke fondly of her childhood memories of the town.

DURROW has launched its Arts and Irish Festival with the help of special guest, novelist Deirdre Purcell who spoke fondly of her childhood memories of the town.

In the gentile setting of the Castle Durrow County House Hotel, the writer told of locals who welcomed her when visiting her grandparents on summer holidays, and commented on the hard work and community spirit shown in organising the festival in the small town.

“It’s the most ambitious, wide ranging, terrifically engaging festival for people to enjoy. Durrow really punches above it’s weight,” said the writer and journalist. who was signing her 12th book ‘Pearl’ for fans at the launch.

For a small town, the amount of people involved in promoting Durrow is astounding as Noleen Dunphy, festival committee member explained to the Leinster Express.

“As well as committee members, at any event we would have the guts of 100 helping out. It’s a small army of volunteers.”

Ms Dunphy outlined what has changed in this year’s Arts Festival which has been moved up from May to run from March 12 to 20, coinciding with St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

“We tried to broaden things this year and do more for children. so we have percussion and dj workshops, and a musical instrument-making workshop in the school.”

The festival is opening with a comedy night ‘Battle of the Axes’ hosted by Durrow’s own Bernard O’Shea while the headline concert is a double bill featuring Irish musicians Luan Parle and Mick Hanley on Friday, March 18.

In the CYMS hall an exhibition of crafts and art will be on display.

“We had a phenomonal response to the visual arts side last year. This year we have artists from far and wide, it does bring in a different element to the festival,” says Noleen.

The parade theme is ‘Wheeling in the Years’, and is again non-motorised, after the success of last year, while a traditional farmers market in the square will echo the theme of bygone days.

Prices are down for this year’s Arts festival too, according to organiser Hugh Sheppard. For full line-up see Stage Left in the coming weeks.