Thursday, December 1, 2022

Festival at Mearescourt set to showcase Westmeath treasures

Mearescourt House is the location for one of the biggest musical events in the country this year with a three-day festival featuring local musical talents The Blizzards, Cronin, Robert Mizzell, Chris Loughrey, Tennessee Break­down Band and Emmet Cahill plus many more.

Taking place from 10 to 12 September, Music at Mearescourt is a must for music lovers seeking the full festival experience.

Paddy Dunning of the acclaimed Grouse Lodge, said that proprietor George Tracey gave the go-ahead for the event to take place at Mearescourt earlier this month. “When the council tender was released, Marty Mulligan (Electric Picnic, Bealtaine festival) got in touch with me and George and we decided we wanted to put on an event covering as many genres as possible. Between the three parties, a proposal was put together.”

The team had to mobilise quickly and decided to develop an arts and music festival, a series of concerts (covid-compliant) with 500 tickets for each concert.

“On Friday night there is rock, pop and a punk band and on Saturday we have Keepin’ It Country. Everybody wanted to come on board and is so excited to perform again in front of an audience.” Paddy continued. “We are hoping that this will become a yearly event and that there will be various types of events at Mearescourt each season. It’s a great addition to have this estate along with the likes of Ballinlough Castle. We want to acknowledge all the great attractions in the midlands.”

Sunday is dedicated to traditional music and Sunday night is a night of broadway, opera and classical music. “It’ll be an all seated show and there will be table service.”

The lay-out will consist of tables with seating for up to six people to facilitate 500 people each night and the stage will be positioned in front of the house with the stunning lake acting as backdrop.

“Nolan’s Sound is doing the PAs and lights with Mark Bennett, videographer, filming the whole show. Everyone is from Westmeath- the artists, the musicians, the roadies, the key personnel, all the staff are from Westmeath. The funding is going back into Westmeath and that is a major part of it.”

He continued that a screen will be erected on stage that will send out a variety of different messages including calls for climate action. “It will also be about acknowledging the positive activities that are going on around the county such as people picking up rubbish in their community who are slowly and quietly working away in the background.”

He said the trojan work of Tidy Town groups throughout the county will also be displayed. “Also we want the derelict houses to be renovated and brought back into use all over the county, especially those that speak to our heritage such as thatched cottages. We need to use this platform to initiate a call to action. We also hope to do a call out to people to stop using pesticides as it’s killing the bees and poisoning our rivers and lakes.”

Paddy said special guests in the field of Irish heritage and history will be invited to the stage to speak on these topics with poetry and pictures set to be displayed on the screen also.

“We are asking people to send in messages that they would like us to display over the three days and nights. We really feel that our built heritage should be conserved and restored. We are sitting on a fabulous asset and it needs to be sustained before it disintegrates. Even the castles and keeps, if they were conserved and fixed up in order to retain them for the next one hundred years, they would be huge beneficially to the tourism industry. We should keep shouting about our assets whether that is Belvedere, Body and Soul at Ballinlough, Uisneach or Fore. There’s great lakes and fishing also. I just brought the BBC to Grouse Lodge for three days and we filmed in Belvedere and they spoke to me about the giant I’m building. It went out all over the world and was a celebration of that great book Gulliver’s Travels. We need to incentivise and bring in legislation that will assist and speed up the restoration and conversation of our local treasures. That’s a call out to the politicians and county councils to reinvigorate their ideas and thoughts in that area. What’s under your nose, sometimes you don’t see but I do think that’s starting to change.”

Ready for rain
Paddy said that in the case of rain, macs will be supplied to all gig goers and parasols erected over tables. Paddy is well in his element when it comes to music events and is the main man behind one of the most successful recording studios in the country Grouse Lodge as well as the Dublin Wax Museum and The Button Factory. “We came upon Grouse Lodge on 9/9/99 and master builder Mick Kirby restored the building and it become a great success.”

Great music made in Westmeath
Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars was written in Grouse Lodge where other artists such as Paolo Nutini and REM have produced critically acclaimed work.

For tickets you can visit

“We’re trying to make the evening a great experience and hope that people will come away not only having enjoyed the music but with a few ideas in their head.”

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