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05 Jul 2022

Portlaoise kicks off huge weekend of Old Fort Quarter Festival frolics

Portlaoise kicks off biggest yet Old Fort Quarter Festival weekend

Zen, Kalia and Heather Rice, part of the Golden Raven Viking Reenactment Group who will be entertaining and educating at the festival all weekend. Photo: Lynda Kiernan

There is only one party in Laois this weekend and it's happening in Portlaoise town centre.

The biggest ever Old Fort Quarter Festival has kicked off a packed schedule of music, heritage and family fun this Thursday night, June 23.

The Leinster Express was among those getting a sneak peak early on Thursday evening.

A giant awning (see it below) has been set up inside the old Fort Protector that can keep an estimated 3,000 people safe from any rain, ready to enjoy live music for the next four days.

There are hot food stands and bars and portaloos set up in in the fort.

The live outdoor music starts and ends early (7.30pm to midnight) to avoid late night disruption to residents.

Below: Laois make up artist Ruth Bergin with Rachael Taylor Fawsitt checking out the Old Fort Quarter Festival.

The Dooley Brothers following by the Whistling Donkeys perform this Thursday, followed on Friday evening by Damian Dempsey supported by The Legend of Luke Kelly.

Saturday features Aslan supported by Drops of Green, and on Sunday Transmitter get the crowds bopping at 6.30pm followed by Smash Hits. Tickets are still available with Sunday almost sold out.

On the Main Street and in Fitzmaurice Place gardens, there will be heritage demonstrations, Viking battles to take part in, street markets, circus acts and on Saturday the Celtic ComicCon in the Dunamaise Arts Centre will be bringing plenty of cosplay fun and atmosphere.

PJ Kavanagh is chairperson of the festival.

"It is the biggest Old Fort Quarter Festival we've ever had. On Saturday and Sunday the Main Street will be closed from Top Square to the new library and there'll be markets, a fun fair and small stages all around the town. 

"It is great to have the hotels full again and the taxis and restaurants will be busy. It's great, it's all go and we hope everyone has a good time.

"We are keeping the business local to Laois, from our sound engineers to catering and security, to give everyone a lift," he said.

The festival is part organised by the Dunamaise Theatre and Laois Heritage Society, and supported by Laois County Council and the Vintners Assocation.

Laois Heritage will be leading guided walks through the town at 1pm, 3pm and 5pm on Saturday and Sunday, while the restored Old St Peter's Graveyard will be especially open all weekend.

The fun doesn't end on Sunday night the festival chairman reveals.

"On Monday afternoon the Leinster Fleadh will be launched here, with TG4 down to film performances by Goitse and a 35 piece trad orchestra, that's free to go to from 6pm to 8.30pm. We can all sleep then on Tuesday," he said.

Below: The Crepe Cart's Michael Delaney and son Tom, Portlaoise, ready to cater for hungry festival goers.

A Laois Viking re-enactment group, the Golden Ravens will be scaring the daylights out of everyone.

Heather Rice and her children Zen and Kalia, and 'monk' Gerry Dunbar are among them.

"We will be doing Viking battles and kids can join in, along with medieval cookery and crafting," Heather said.

For full line-up pick up a free brochure at the festival, or see the website https://oldfortquarter.com/

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