Festival to celebrate the town's heritage

Festival Old Fort Quarter Festival to celebrate Portlaoise's Cultural Heritage

Festival to celebrate the town's heritage
By Conor Ganlynews@leinsterexpress.ieTwitter: @laoisnews

The organisers of a new street festival are promising an exciting weekend of entertainment next month with the holding of a festival that gives a nod to the town's past.

The Old Fort Quarter Festival draws its title and theme from the little known, but fascinating, history of the original ‘Fort of Maryborough’ and offers a weekend of free family fun and live music on Saturday 25 and Sunday, June 26 on Main Street, Portlaoise.

A packed-programme of events will run from noon to midnight each day. Street Theatre including stilt walkers, jugglers, puppet shows, giant games, family art workshops and more fun daily. On Sunday, a range of Medieval Heritage Displays offer a taste of life in Maryborough Fort with displays by a blacksmith, armoury and more from Irish arms re-enactment group. Live Music on Main St includes top acts; Interskalactic, Big Generator, Poguetry in Motion, Transmitter, Strength in Numbers, The Valves and more each evening.

Located just behind Main St, sections of the original walls of the 16th Century Fort walls are visible along its border. Properties on the Main St have areas exposed and intact, and the Fort’s rounded corner tower is especially prominent at Fitzmaurice Place, near Scoil Mhuire.

Beginning in 1547AD as fortification against the local clans, the town of Maryborough, now Portlaoise, developed around the site of the Fort.

The Festival is the first major public event to raise awareness of the significance of the Old Fort. Longer term plans include branding that section of town as the ‘Old Fort Quarter’, from Main St to Fitzmaurice Place and along Church Avenue and Railway St on each side, to identify this section of the town as a cultural/heritage site.

Laois Heritage Society recently published an archaeological survey on the Old Fort.

This led to an interest from local businesses to develop this section of the town into a cultural/heritage site. The ultimate aim is to develop awareness of this unique piece of Irish history that is situated right in the centre of town, and to explore its potential attraction for heritage cultural tourism.

The Organisers are working closely with the Gardai and Laois County Council to make sure all necessary advance arrangements regarding temporary street closure of lower Main Street, traffic flow, parking arrangements and security are in place, to ensure a safe, family friendly and positive atmosphere is created for the weekend long Festival.

The Festival is supported by Laois County Council, Laois Heritage Society, Dunamaise Arts Centre and local businesses.