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Saturday 21 September 2019

Quay gets its moment in the sun

PEOPLE FROM all over Wexford and further afield descended on Wexford's quayfront over the weekend for the first John Barry Maritime Festival.

While the weather on Saturday was less than desirable, it didn't dampen the spirits of those assembled as they braved the elements to see search and rescue demonstrations, the parade of boats and wakeboarding demonstrations.

A few people may have even taken shelter by visiting the lifeboat station for a tour of the facilities.

On Sunday the sun came out and everything seemed even better! The quayside was crammed with people basking in the June sunshine, which for the most part of the month has escaped us! Approaching the quay, you could smell the barbecue and hear the music and it felt like everything that summer is supposed to be.

Wexford's quayside looked amazing and it was great to see it being put to such good use. At 3 p.m. a crowd gathered to witness the awesome speed of the Thundercat power boats as the zipped around the ballast bank at speeds of up to 90km/h.

After all that excitement they crowds could have set off for the food tent. The amount of different cuisines on offer was truly impressive. From seafood to crepes the food tent had everything.

Outside an Imelda May tribute act were playing to a crowd and further down the quay, children and thrill seekers were in their element on the array of carnival rides.

At the RNLI Station Simon Gulliver of the Wexford RNLI was conducting tours of the facilities and showing off some of the equipment which is used in the case of an emergency at sea. Upstairs in the lifeboat station, there was a display dedicated to the great man himself, John Barry, containing a number of rare books, commemorative coins and stamps which had been made in honour of the great Wexford man.

At 6 p.m. the annual wreath laying ceremony at the John Barry statue marked the end of the festival. A guard of honour was formed by members of the navy and was inspected by the guest of honour, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin.

In what would be his last act as outgoing Mayor of Wexford, Davy Hynes spoke of the honour at being involved in the ceremony,

In his speech, Minister Howlin congratulated Cllr Hynes on a successful year as Mayor before discussing the importance of the commemoration of John Barry.

He said ' The wreath laying ceremony is an important annual event for Wexford town and county. Not only does it help to celebrate our proud naval past and tradition, but at the same time it celebrates our friendship with those in the U.S.'

Following the speeches the wreath laying ceremony took place. Ministers Howlin and Paul Kehoe laid wreaths on behalf of the Irish government, while Lt Col Shawn Purviss laid a wreath on behalf of the American people. Wreaths were also laid by Philip Dillon, on behalf of John Barry's descendants, and John Fowler on behalf of the organisation of ex service men and women.

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