Life begins at 40 (plus) for thriving Creggs Harvest Festival!

Our man Frank reports on another successful annual Creggs Harvest Festival; On making his debut as a ‘budding bard’… and how Ireland’s World Cup exit proved costly for publicans

It’s Bank Holiday Monday as I write, and yet another Harvest Festival is almost over. For something that is more than 40 years old, the good news is that it is alive and well. As they say, there’s life in the old dog yet!

Friday night kicked off with stylist Maria Carton helping the large crowd of ladies present with some tips on how to look your best, while both quizzes, junior and senior, were well attended. I don’t know why there was no stylist for us men, but I suppose we look so well we couldn’t be made to look any better.

After the quizzes and the style forum (doubt if that’s the right word), it was the turn of the Boogeymen to take the stage in Mikeen’s, and as I told you before, they are (and were) just brilliant. The enthusiastic audience were hopping and bopping around the place.

Now I have to say that over the entire weekend the quality of the music in both pubs was top class, with Strings & Things wowing the crowd in Gannon’s on Saturday night, and country star Jason Travers doing the same on Sunday night. Down in Mikeen’s, local lad Sean Donoghue was in top form on Saturday night, aided by a lady whose name I don’t know but who was superb on the fiddle. Then on Sunday night, young Kenneth McCormack went down a treat with his wonderfully diverse repertoire.

It’s a pity that music has almost died out in country pubs, but last weekend proved that the talent is certainly there – all that’s needed is the market.

In case you think that there was nothing else on except public house activities, the dog show, craft fair, fancy dress parade, and bake sale were all well attended, while the Eleanor Shanley and Mike Hanrahan concert on Sunday evening was a highlight for a number of our festival visitors.

On Saturday afternoon, another highlight was the annual Paul Devaney memorial football match between the Mountain and the Valley, and after an epic battle the Valley beat their much-vaunted rivals by a goal – the final score being 3-11 to 2-11.

The late Paul Devaney was a member of a renowned footballing family, a former Creggs player himself, and a man who was called from this life way too early. The huge crowd that turned up for the game was a fitting tribute to his memory – seasoned observers reckoned the crowd was the biggest seen in Creggs all year, even for league or championship fixtures!

As well as the Paul Devaney Memorial Cup presentation to the captain of the Valley winning team, Thomas Crean, there was a lovely tribute to our late physio, Oleg Doroshkevich, when his wife Olga presented Creggs GAA Club with a bench which will be placed outside the dressing rooms as a permanent reminder of the time the popular physio spent with us. On our behalf, the club commissioned a framed photo of Oleg, which will be placed at the entrance to the dressing rooms so the players that he looked after so well will see his smiling face every time they walk in the door.

When all the formalities were completed, the players and committee members, along with Olga and their daughter, and All-Ireland referee Shane Curley, who officiated at the Mountain/Valley game, retired to the school hall for a beautiful meal served by the Maloney brothers of Delicious Catering. Afterwards, the craic was great as the Valley boys celebrated their win. The truth is that nothing compares to the rivalry that can exist between the two distinct areas of our half-parish.

Anyway, the cup rests for this year down here in the Valley, and it will be 12 long months before the Mountain lads get a chance to win it back – it will seem like a lifetime.

Budding Bards!

It’s now Monday evening, and I have just got back from the Bard of Connacht competition, where ten budding bards, including yours truly, recited their compositions in an attempt to win the Vinny Keaveney Memorial trophy, along with a very attractive monetary award of €500.

John Ralph from outside Ballygar was a very worthy and deserving winner, while sadly, although not surprisingly, my effort did not make it into the prize-winning enclosure – the first four got varying amounts of prize-money, while all ten of us got nice certificates. What amazed me was the fact that there were almost 100 entries. On the night there were bards from Tramore, Monaghan, Raheny, and Sligo in attendance, while second prize went to an entrant from Clonakilty, Co. Cork, who was unable to make it.

Our own Mary White was called on to recite three entries for people who couldn’t be there, and she was so good you would swear she had written them herself. Anyway, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and a new experience for me, and I have to say that I had picked John Ralph out as author of the best offering on the night, so well done John, your poem was just fantastic.

And finally…

As the rugby World Cup came to an end on Saturday night, it seems that publicans around the country are counting the cost of Ireland’s failure to qualify for the semi-final – a match against Argentina that we would almost certainly have won.

That would have put us into a World Cup final, and in the words of Kerry publican Ollie Favier, who owns two pubs in the Kingdom, “if we made it past the quarter-finals, we would have had two more bumper days”, which would have brought them through to this Bank Holiday weekend. He said it all fell completely flat on its face after our exit, with the last two rugby weekends being non-events (for publicans).

It’s funny how everything is connected, and while we were all sad at our exit, we didn’t really think of the knock-on financial impact of our quarter-final loss. I know it’s four years away again, but if only to keep our publicans happy, please lads get to the semi-final at least!