Creggs Harvest Festival provides a much-needed boost to a village in decline

For all of us who live out in rural Ireland, it’s an undeniable fact that communities are dying on their feet, and the easy thing to do is to accept the inevitable, and let our villages and small towns have a long, lingering, and painful death.

Creggs has been my home village for practically all my life. I was born there, went to national school there, played my rugby and football (and hurling) for the village teams, and apart from a spell in the late Sixties and Seventies, I have lived in the locality all my life, and of course, I have witnessed at first hand, the terrible decline of our little border community.

In my young days, we had a library – my mother, Mrs B, was the librarian – a forge, six pubs, six or seven shops, a Garda station, manned by a sergeant and three guards, and, no matter what you wanted, from the proverbial needle to an anchor, you could buy it in any or some of the grocery or hardware shops spread around the village, which we certainly took for granted.

Today, we have one pub, a Garda station with one Garda, the village shop and post office with petrol pumps, and butchers, and on the credit side, since my youth, we have gained two garages and a chipper. But, no matter what way you look at it, we have lost a lot of the old vibrancy and vitality.

34th Creggs Harvest Festival was one of the best ever

And yet this bank holiday weekend, Creggs has been lively, busy and alive, with the staging of the 34th Harvest Festival, and despite the negativity of continually being told that the festival has very little to offer, it continues to draw the crowds and year in, year out, people flock to Creggs to take part in and support the many different activities.

I am writing this on the bank holiday Monday and, from all the information that’s coming my way, everything (almost) has been very well attended, and the feeling is that it has been one of the best festivals ever.

The quizzes on Friday night were huge successes and set the tone for the weekend! Earlier on Friday night Seán (Bags) Keegan, our legendary goalkeeper, reciter – he is the best recitation giver, along with Mick Roarke, in the country – was honoured, and rightfully so, as the parish’s ‘Personality of the Year’ and I’m told the celebrations went on long into the night.

The Tidy Towns Dance on Saturday night was packed and on Sunday the Dog Show was the most successful ever, with all the contestants looking and behaving their very best, and the auction in aid of the school was also very well supported.

Now I won’t bore you by going through every single activity but if there was one disappointment, it was the lack of support for the parish dance in The Parochial Hall on Sunday night.

But despite the small crowd, Seán Brennan put on a fantastic show and, for all of us there, it was one of the best nights crack ever.

Monday morning came with a good drop of rain, and the sceptic would think that the Fair Day would be a disaster, but that couldn’t be further from the truth – we had the usual turnout of asses, foals, and horses of all shapes and sizes and, in the middle of it all, we held a very successful Irish National Pudding Tasting Contest.

The result in the White Pudding contest was a win for Kelly’s from Newport, while in the Black Pudding we had a very popular local winner with Declan Maloney claiming the honours with his own homemade creation!

They were both very well received and congrats to each of the winners, but especially our own local one – well done, Declan.

We had traditional music from the Griffin Family on Monday afternoon, a one man tour-de-force of dancing and joke telling by Kevin Cunniffe, music in Mikeen’s by PJ Davis.

My harvest came to an end at about six o’clock when I headed home after a few hours of top class entertainment – I’m sure there were many much later than I, but as I’m finishing this piece on a wet Tuesday morning, I think we can look back on another successful harvest festival.

And so I’m back to where I started! Rural communities can fight back, and while it may only be one weekend in the year, it’s vitally important not to let such festivals go under.

We all get fed up at having to attend so many meetings, but nothing can go ahead without people being involved in organising different events, so as the curtain falls on this year’s harvest festival, if there are people in the area (this would also apply to every other village that puts on any event) who would like to get involved don’t be shy, get on board, and let’s all work together to keep rural Ireland alive, at least in our case, for the October Bank Holiday Weekend.

Suspend judgement on processed meat findings

Anyway that’s enough about that, so changing subjects entirely, and this morning I have to admit that the findings of the World Health Organisation’s study, which effectively says that processed red meat causes cancer, should be causing me great concern, as it includes the ingredients of the staple diet of most Irish people (certainly at weekends) – the traditional fry-up! We are told that rashers, sausages – I wonder what’s the story with the black and white pudding – and all kinds of stuff may be, potentially, bad for us, but after careful consideration, I’ve decided to wait for absolute definite confirmation.

And as I near the end of this piece, I’ve just taken out the pan, and I’ll take my chances with a full Irish fry – pudding and all, and hope for the best.

Halloween disco at Kilbegnet

In the local scene (again, says you) there is a children’s Halloween disco with fancy dress, on Friday night, October 30, in St. Mary’s Hall, Kilbegnet from 7 pm to 9 pm, with admission only €5.

Meanwhile, I have to congratulate the Glinsk pool team who won the Brian Enda Kilcommons Trophy by defeating their arch rivals from Creggs in Mikeen’s on Sunday afternoon. Well done Glinsk, but I can’t understand why I didn’t make the Creggs team.

Finally for this week

Returning to the big dance that we held (what seems an eternity ago) a few weeks ago in Dowd’s, Glinsk, we are presenting the proceeds to the representatives of the two charities, the Lourdes Invalid Fund and Cancer Care West, on Wednesday night, November 4, at 8.30 pm over a cup of tea in Dowd’s.

We raised the fantastic sum of €3,700 so each group will collect €1850 each. As always a huge thanks to all the people who supported us by buying tickets, by coming to the dance and by giving spot prizes!

To all the crew who gave up so much of their time to go out selling the tickets, to Tommy and Delores Dowd for hosting us so well, and being so helpful, and of course to Frank Nelson for putting on such an entertaining show.

It will be a low key presentation but anyone who wants to join us on the night will be more than welcome.

Till next week, Bye for now