Your day by day guide to Castlerea Festival 2016 …

Wednesday, July 27th

The 28th annual Castlerea Festival will get underway with a Grand Opening Parade through the streets of the town on Wednesday, July 27th, at 8 pm.

  This free event will feature characters such as Spiderman, Superman and Elsa, along with the Castlerea Brass & Reed Band and Samba bands.

  A world of colour and theatre will parade through the streets in a carnival atmosphere. The bright, exhilarating inflatables will help to create a spectacular evening for the little ones and the big ones.

  Local councillor Paschal Fitzmaurice organises the parade, which has been a key feature of the festival for the past 15 years or so.

  “This year, we have got lots of new costumes and inflatables,” he said. “We will have lots of kids in costumes and vintage tractors and cars. It is going to be a big clash of colours – and lots of people enjoying themselves.”

  Several hundred children are expected to be involved in the parade, which will be followed by a reading of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic at The Square and a raising of the national flag (8.30 pm).

  The official opening will take place at the same location at 9 pm, and will be performed by Lieutenant-Colonel Kevin Campion.

  Half an hour later, Jimmy Buckley, leading country music star, will start a free concert at The Square. Jimmy, Male Artist of the Year at RTÉ’s Country Music Awards this year, and his band will be belting out all his biggest hits.

  All are invited to attend and join in the fun, with amusements, food stalls, a barbecue and lots more.

  As the festival is a non-profit event and depends on generous support to run it, bucket collections will be circulating during the concert.

  Street entertainment will be provided at St. Patrick’s Street on opening night, as it will on each evening during the festival.

Thursday, July 28th

The festival will continue on Thursday with the Traders’ Market Day at St. Patrick Street from 10 am to 1 pm, a free event. This will feature family fun with a difference, including crafts and a fabulous food stall.

  At 3 pm, there will be a Children’s Window Treasure Hunt, starting at Tom Flynn’s shop in Main Street. Join in the fun: whoever gathers all the clues first, wins.

  There will be lots of entertainment that evening, all of which will be free.         It will start at 6.30 pm with a cheese and wine reception in Castlerea Library, followed by a lecture called ‘Apprentice Draper to Jacob’s Factory 1916’ by Anthony Jordan.

  This session will also feature a photographic exhibition of Castlerea in the days of yore, while there will also be reminiscence about Father Michael O’Flanagan, a local priest, described as “the staunchest priest that ever lived”. Live traditional music will also be played.

  At 9 pm, Michael English, a top country music star, will give an eagerly-awaited concert at the Fairgreen. Mr. English and his band will perform all their greatest hits in the heart of Castlerea in this open-air concert.

  Come along and bring your dancing shoes and listen to the beautiful tones of Michael English, who won ‘Country Dance of the Year’ at the recent RTÉ Irish Country Music Awards. A brilliant night’s entertainment is in store.

  At 10.30 pm that night, a Fireworks Display will be held at the Fairgreen. The striking display of bright colours exploding in the night sky above Castlerea will have both young and old in awe. This will be an event not to be missed.

Friday, July 29th

A thrilling afternoon’s entertainment is in store for children on Friday, July 29th, with ‘Children Story Time with Balloons & Bubbles’ in Trinity Arts Centre.

  There will be three shows throughout the day: one from 1 pm to 2 pm; the second from 2.30 pm to 4 pm; and the third from 4.15 pm to 5.30 pm. No charge will be applicable for this wonderful event.

  Sarah, the Rose Fairy, will open the magical world of Fairyland, where pirates, mermaids and fairies live. This involves music, singing and actions.

  The children help with finger puppets and sound effects. Every step of the way will be an interactive experience, involving lots of fun.

  At 8 pm, there will be live Pig Racing – a day at the races with cute little pigs, instead of horses. It will take place at St. Patrick’s Street and will be free to the public.

  This event will also include a barbecue, food stalls, street entertainment, facepainting and amusements. This will all help to make this a night not to miss. This free event guarantees a great night for all the family.

  The next event, a concert by Crazy Corner at 9.30 pm, will also be free. This will comprise live music with Ballintubber’s biggest band, who will play all the best rock, pop and country music, from the Beatles to Oasis, the Saw Doctors to Mike Denver and Bruce Springsteen. A brilliant night is guaranteed.

Saturday, July 30th

This will be the biggest day of the festival, with eight events held throughout day, from 11 am to 10 pm.

  The fun will begin with a Children’s Colouring Competition in The Hub at 11 am. If you like to colour, this event is for you. Entry is free and all winners will receive a beautiful Castlerea Rose Festival medal.

  This event will be open to all ages. And, if you would like to enter your masterpiece into the Castlerea Agricultural Show’s ‘Children’s Art Competition’, you can do so on the day for just €1.

  The fun will continue with Cupcake Decorating, another free event in The Hub, at 11.30 am. This event was hugely successful when held last year, leading to its return in this year’s festival.

  Young ‘budding bakers’ can create and design their own cupcake with sprinkles, sweeties, chocolate, marshmallows and sparkles. Cupcakes will come fresh from the oven of Hannah’s Happy Cake Kitchen. Suitable for all ages.

  At noon, a Teddy Bears’ Picnic, again free of charge, will be held in The Hub. Bring your picnic and favourite teddy or doll and join in the fun with storytelling and a sing-along.

  From 3 pm to 5 pm, a Funky Kiddies Disco with DJ Keith will be held in The Hub. This event is priced at €5 per child, with family tickets also available.

  Described as “the best funky disco party ever”, there will be loads of disco games, glowsticks and giveaways. The event will be suitable for all ages, though parental supervision will be required at all times.

  At 4 pm, the Fr. Michael O’Flanagan Memorial Walk will be held, starting at Castlerea Library and finishing at the memorial bridge which is named after him.

  The walk will comprise a stroll through 100 years of history with stories of the Castlerea native, who was fondly known as the ‘Republican Priest’ and is also regarded as the ‘the staunchest priest that ever lived’. This event is free.

  At 6 pm, a Bubble Soccer Tournament will be held at the AstroTurf pitch a Castlerea Celtic’s grounds. This event is free.

  Come and watch 16 teams battle in these fast-paced fun matches. At the end of the event, one team will be named tournament champion, for which they will receive the Castlerea Rose Festival Bubble Soccer Trophy.

  At 8 pm in Trinity Arts Centre, an event will be held to marked Castlerea Drama Group’s 50th anniversary. A €5 charge will apply for this event.

  This ‘evening of celebrations’ will feature a trip down memory lane, with displays, extracts and a special ‘Remembering Michael O’Flynn’ tribute, together with a wine reception.

  The group are hoping to reunite past and present, along with their families and friends who have been involved in the past 50 years.

  At 10 pm in the SuperValu car park, Seamus Moore will play a concert. Come and watch Moore belt out his classic tunes, such as My Little Honda 50 and The Transit Van.

Sunday, July 31st

Sunday’s programme is also action-packed, with six main events.

  The first, a free Swimming Gala, will be held at 11 am in Castlerea Swimming Pool. As well as the usual swimming events, there will be a penny dive, pyjama race and other events. They will be open to all ages. The best swimmer will receive the Dyer Memorial Cup.

  At noon, the annual 5 km Fun Run/10 km Race will be held in The Demesne.

  It will start from Castlerea GAA Club. Pre-registration will be available online at, while registration will also be available on the day, from 10 am to 11.45 am.

  Entry fee is €10 for adults in the 5 km and €15 for adults in the 10 km, while admission for a family is €20. This event is chipped-timed. The 10 km is an event open only to runners.

  This promises to be a great event, with medals for all participants, as well as post-race refreshments in the club.

  The event is in aid of the Zoe Cryan Trust. Zoe is the daughter of local man David Cryan (Baslick) and his wife, Siobhan.

  Zoe was born 16 weeks premature and weighing only 1lb 3oz. She has overcome major obstacles, but still faces significant challenges.

  It is hoped that all funds raised for the Zoe Cryan Trust will help towards Zoe’s continued development, as well as purchase equipment and therapies to assist her now and in the future.

  At 2 pm, a Family Fun Day will be held in the Demesne, across from St. Kevin’s GAA Centre. Entry is €5 per child, with family tickets also available.

  This event will be thrilling with children, with a disco dome, obstacle course, bouncy castles, barbecue, sports day, penalty shoot-out, facepainting, balloon-modelling and lots more.

  At 3 pm, the official opening of Fairyland will be held in the Demesne, which will be an opportunity to welcome Castlerea’s newest inhabitants.

  In the idyllic location in a woodland section of the Demesne, you will be able to view variety of tiny fairy houses sprinkled around the Fairyland.

  From 4 pm to 6 pm, a historical event called ‘The Generation before the Easter Rising’ will be held in Trinity Arts Centre.

  This will feature an exhibition of the Griffith Valuation, the first full-scale valuation of property in Ireland and one of the most important surviving 19th-century genealogical sources.

  It’s a snapshot of the parishes of Kilteevan, Ballintubber and Baslick in the year 1856-57. If you want to trace your family heritage, this free event is a must.

  The event will draw to a close with the Rose of Castlerea Selection Night, the centrepiece of the festival, in Trinity Arts Centre at 9 pm.

  Come along for a great night’s entertainment to see who will take the title of the 2016 Rose of Castlerea. Compére on the night is Paul Claffey. Admission is €10, with family tickets available on the door.