Great line-up for Boyle Arts Festival

The wide-ranging programme for Boyle Arts Festival (BAF) was unveiled in the idyllic setting of The Visitor Centre at Lough Key on Friday evening last. The Festival takes place from Friday July 27 to Friday August 4. The programme incorporates all the elements such as music of different genres, the Visual arts, Literature, Theatre, family activities and much more.   There are two major arts exhibitions with The Main Exhibition incorporating New and Emerging Artists and invited guests. It is nice to see local artist Vera Gaffney among those exhibiting here this year. The Local/Open Exhibition has expanded from a local base to give an opportunity for those who might not have such an opportunity to display their work particularly from the western region.   Rhona McGrath, Chairperson of BAF introduced the programme commending Roscommon County Council and Coillte and Lough Key Management. She said every effort would made to link The Park with BAF.    Rhona thanked the Arts Council and Failte Ireland through Ireland West, who were represented by Mr. Tony Dawson, for their ongoing support. She also recognised the necessary contribution of the volunteers in the success of the Festival. Rhona welcomed Helen Malpas who will take charge of the Festival office with Christine Kelly of King House as Festival Administrator.    All events are listed in the comprehensive BAF programme with its new logo and colour-coded guide. Noreen Hawkins gave a rendition of the tragic love story of Una Bhan McDermott and Tomas Laidir Costello. The fact that we were able to observe the topographical setting for the story as it was related, was apt, as was the presence of members of the Costello clan.   Photographic record A new feature this year encourages people to take photographs during the Festival which will be displayed subsequently.   Poetry Competition There is an impressive entry totalling three hundred and fifty for this competition the results of which will be announced at the Jessie Smith/Paul Perry performance in The Royal Hotel on Sunday July 29 at 12.30.     The King House Piano  The fine Steinway Piano in King House will feature each day with a number of distinguished performers from James Nalley on opening night to the Featured Composer, Philip Martin on Sunday July 29 with Anthony Byrne of National Symphony and RTE orchestras on Monday, Maria McGarry on Tuesday and Ivan Ili?, ‘a rising star of the Parisian music scene’ on Thursday. The Piano theme concludes with a legend of Irish Jazz, Jim Doherty on the final Friday night.   Children and Workshops Children and families are particularly well catered for. There is a wealth of workshops, films and events for children. One of the workshops, run by Carol Daly, culminates in the Carnival Parade while another local lady Catherine Simon returns with her ‘Drama Works’, for children.    One item which strikes one as being of particular interest for kids is on Tuesday July 31 at Lough Key Forest and Activity Park titled ‘Androcles and the Lion’. Audience tickets are limited and booking essential for this puppet extrvaganza. This is an effort to link up with The Park. There are also Workshops in writing and music for more adult groups. The challenge here is to choose which one to participate in to the exclusion of others.  Fiona Keenan is the coordinator of the Workshops.    In the bars The traditional popular standards are again on the programme such as the Singers Night with guest Jimmy Canavan the featured singer and the Storytelling Night hosted by Barry Feely with Pat McGeney from Armagh both in Clarke’s.   Barry Lowe of The Moving Stairs hosts comedian Joe Rooney and a musical group Lonshotts perform a range of instruments and cover a range of genres.   In Daly’s there is a popular Sunday lunchtime Jazz session with Rumbatism whose repertoire is described in the programme as, ‘based in Latin rhythms of South America and Spain and moves from Catalan rumba to the Cuban bolero or the Brazilian bossanova with hints of flamenco and jazz improvisation !’ Later in the week the mood changes in Daly’s with Mystic River.   American traditional fiddle player Jessie Smith is accompanied by poet Paul Perry on the afternoon of Sunday afternoon July 29    in The Royal Hotel.   Big Maggie Boyle Drama Group present John B. Keane’s powerful play Big Maggie Directed by the irrepressible Frank O’Mahoney in The Town Hall on Wednesday August 1.     On the final Friday there is a distinctive Polish flavour to the day with music, food and film.   Lectures There are interesting lectures on such varied themes as The Art of Building by Loughlin Kealy, The Life and Works of Ae George Russell by John Donohoe and The Medieval Settlement of Lough Key by Dr. Kieran O’Connor.     While one can only give an outline here it is necessary for people to access the attractive Festival brochure. I have often, I must admit, received the programme and not given it the attention it deserved. On this occasion I’ve been, of necessity, more thorough and can recognise and appreciate the great variety of material catering for all ages and tastes in the Arts.