Wexford Festival kicks off with a bang
The 64th Wexford Festival Opera kicked off with a bang on Wednesday night as up to 10,000 people watched the fireworks spectacular on Wexford Quays.
The official opening was performed by Minister Brendan Howlin, who said it was a singular honour, for him as a Wexford man, to perform the opening.
'This is a Wexford community event, it is brought about by the work of hundreds of men and women who give freely of their time and talent to achieve the very best,' he told the crowd gathered in mildly unseasonal weather.
'Sixty-four years ago in 1951, a band of dreamers led by Dr Tom Walsh and including Eugene McCarthy, Seamus Dwyer, Dr Des French, Dr Jim Luddy, Seán Scallan and others in the words of George Bernard Shaw "dreamed of things that never were and said: why not?" Why not a festival of opera in Wexford? Why not a world-class celebration of art and music in this beautiful corner of Ireland?' said Minister Howlin.
Tributes were paid to people who had been connected with the festival and who had passed, including Liz Sinnott, Mairead Furlong, Jim Golden and Jerome Hynes. Festival Trust chairman Ger Lawlor dedicated the 2015 festival to the late Liam Healy, the former CEO of Independent News and Media, saying his contribution to the building of the National Opera House could never be forgotten. Mayor Cllr Ger Carthy said it was a great honour for him to attend the opening night in his official capacity and recalled the times when he was a child attending past opening nights and firework displays.
He said the really important people at the opening were the people of Wexford. 'The opening night of the festival is your night, a night for parents, children and families. It is a night when families from town and country come out to enjoy a truly amazing spectacle and celebrate the start of a wonderful, brilliant and truly amazing festival.'