Sunday 15 December 2019

Sun shines on another great festival

Sharon Fenlon, Susan Fenlon and Darren Rossiter
Sharon Fenlon, Susan Fenlon and Darren Rossiter
Edel, John and Peter Redmond from Rosslare
Jackie Cullen, Christine Doyle, Paul Bailie and Luke Fox collecting for Crumlin Children Hospital
The crowds enjoyed the spectacle of stunt flying

Anna Hayes

A huge crowd packed onto Wexford's quay front over the course of the weekend to celebrate Wexford's rich maritime heritage.

The seventh annual Maritime Festival was basked in glorious sunshine and visitors to the town took the time to get up close and personal with rescue services such as the RNLI, the Coast Guard, the HSE ambulance service and plenty of others as they strolled along the quay. The food village ensured that people were well-fed, whether it was a burger or some much-needed ice-cream!

Festival coordinator Lorraine Galvin paid particular tribute to her colleague David Maguire who, she said, took on an intensive organisational role for the weekend. She said they had estimated that, over the two days, around 43,000 people had visited the quay and enjoyed the festivities.

Sunday afternoon's airshow was one the highlights of the weekend, as the daredevil pilot executed some daring manoeuvres, much to delight of the audience.

On Saturday afternoon, a 70-piece orchestra, who travelled from the USA entertained the crowds with their musical expertise, offering an all-American sound to a festival that, Ms Galvin said, had really strengthened its international links this year.

This year, Wexford's former air base played a pivotal role in the celebrations. An exhibition focusing on the US Air Base that was located in Ardcavan in 1918 provided a fascinating examination of a very interesting period of local history.

A plaque was unveiled on the quay, commemorating the air base and an Air Corps CASA flypast was timed to pass over at the exact moment that the presentation was made.

Ms Galvin said that what had struck them this year was the reach that the festival had shown, not only at home but also abroad. The John Barry connection, she said, made it a festival of interest to many people living outside of Ireland.

But on home soil, the festival's reputation has also grown and six national media outlets featured the Maritime Festival as one of the top five things to do over the weekend.

Ms Galvin said: 'The weather was obviously a huge help but the festival lends itself very well to the quay front and the breeze coming in from the sea was very welcome.'

Of course, one of the main aims of the festival is to showcase the local, community groups who are doing wonderful work. The rescue services gave practical advice about life-jackets to those who visited them. Other groups, such as the Purple Paddlers showed off their self-built boat, and many others also took part.

'Any community group that wanted to take part, did. We didn't turn anyone away. We would hope that, maybe, having met our emergency services on the quay, some kids might be inspired to follow in their footsteps.'

She added that the festival could not exist without the many volunteers who worked tirelessly for the weekend and said they were all over the moon with the success of the event his year.

'The main thing for us is to show the importance of maritime heritage to Wexford.'

Wexford People

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