Port makes French connection

THEY might be causing us problems in Europe and Thierry Henry didn’t do us any favours but the people of Portarlington are set to make the most of their french connection next months.

THEY might be causing us problems in Europe and Thierry Henry didn’t do us any favours but the people of Portarlington are set to make the most of their french connection next months.

After a seven-year gap a well-organised group of local people officially relaunched the Festival Francais de Portarlington last Friday night at O’Dea’s Bistro. The event runs from Friday to Saturday 15,16,17 and reflects the town’s Franco links through its Hugenot heritage.

The festival is sure is not to disappoint with a feast of fun for all the family. From sporting and cultural events to family fun and the best of Irish rock music, the return of the French festival is set to be a big attraction to the people of Port and further afield.

The festival gets under way with an opening parade at 7pm on Friday, 15 from the Station Road to the Square where there will be live music, dance and theatre. The Square will be the hub of musical entertainment all weekend.

On Saturday there will be a street market and a sports day and fun at Gracefield GAA. The town centre is the venue for a fun day in the park while there’ll be buskers and a BBQ outside the Anvil.

The best of Irish rock and pop is lined up for Saturday on the Square stage. The music gets underway at 5pm with charttoppers Republic of Loose playing a two hour set finishing at 10pm.

Saturday night also promises to to be a showstopping musical event with the Port Lions Club presenting the Liza Manelli Story at the Community Centre. The show was a sell out at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin.

Sunday begins with a 5km fun run and the street market will still be in place. There is sure to be plenty of entertainment along the River Barrow for a Sports Nautique Bonanza.

The festivals most bizarre event is sure to be the World Snail Eating Championship. More music includes U2 tribute band Vertigo, Star in Yours Bars.

In the run up to the event a Festival Queen will be selected over two nights on July 1 and 8. The winner will go on to represent Port in the Laois Rose contest. For more info contact festivalfrancais@gmail.com

Launching the festival at O’Dea’s festival, its chairman Kieran O’Dea said the event would build on the festival which first took place in 1977.

“We could see the need to revive the festival in these trying times to encourage business and a sense of community...We feel that this event will bring thousands of people to the town. We are optimistic that this year’s festival will be a success,” he said thanking all who have helped out so far.

Cllrs Eddie Fitzpatrick and Ray Cribbin congratulated all involved as did Dom Reddin of Laois County Council and Ann Goodwin of Laois Partnership which she said had invested E6,000 in the event.

The festival also promises a host of workshops and McCormacks Carnival runs every day in the Square.

The organising committee is: Kieran O’Dea, Chairman, Padraig Dunne, Assistant Chairperson, Mary Foy, Secretary, Arlene Foy, Pro, Harry Murphy, asst pro,Eoghan Coffey, Treasurer, and members Neill Coffey, Carmel Dunne and Kevin Bracken.

The event is supported by local traders, Laois Partnership, Laois County Council and the Offaly Local Development Company.