By Claire Corrigan
What a weekend! The hugely successful Mearescourt Music Festival took place over the weekend and it surpassed all expectations with festival goers having the time of their lives at well organised shows.
“It was amazing and one of the most successful events run in Ireland in the last two years.” organiser Marty Mulligan told Topic. “The weather was great.”
The crew had just over a month to prepare but the results spoke for themselves with incredible feedback from those who attended. “There was a great team of people who all rowed in and pulled together.” he said.
The festival was made possible through funding from Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and the support of Westmeath County Council. “Without them we would not have been able to put on an event of this scale. It was a very big production involved in the event.”
Friday night saw the delectable Bobby and the Blunts take to the stage with Marty acting as MC for the night. “Cronin were fantastic and Flynn is just a pure star in the making and from that stage on, all the crowd got up dancing. Because people haven’t danced in 18 months they were almost not sure how to do it but because this event was people who were vaccinated, people could mingle from table to table so they did have that freedom.”
He said when firm favourites The Blizzards took to the stage, “everyone in the place was up and they played an amazing show. It was actually very emotional – to see people laughing and smiling. It was really powerful, you could feel that something powerful was happening.”
For the last song, all the acts took to the stage to perform the finale with The Blizzards’ Superdrug for what was a unique celebration of togetherness, music and live. “It was sheer brilliance. This has not been seen in a long time. Bressie told the crowds ‘We’re back” as it was the first proper gig that everyone had.”
On Saturday, although festival goers were disappointed at Mayo’s loss, once the music started, all was forgotten. “It was a brilliant night of pure country.”
Brid Shaughnessy, Chris Loughrey and the Tennessee Breakdown Band rocked the crowd. Ray Dolan was the host and he was brilliant. When Robert Mizzell took to the stage and everyone took to the floor, people jived until the last song. You could sense the atmosphere amongst the crowd. It was beautiful. There were no incidents and people were really grateful to have the opportunity to get out and enjoy themselves.”
On Sunday afternoon, the Westmeath Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann took to the stage (with Manchán Magan who did a beautiful job MCing) and then “local hero Mick Foster and it was so poignant and beautiful seeing him perform in the place he was reared. The music was pure trad’ and excellent. Sharon Shannon fell in love with the place and wanted to stay. She played the most amazing set. It was great to see everyone with smiles on their faces and the sun shining.”
On Sunday, the fourth show featured songs from musicals and broadway and was hosted by the Mullingar Arts Centre. “That was stunning. Helen Hassett and her beautiful operatic voice stunned the crowd. Mark Irwin rocked it out with his band with members of Fallen Lights.”
Micheal Harding MCed this show and took the opportunity to invite Jadotville hero Tom Gunn to the stage and he revealed that at that “precise time, 60 years ago, to the day, to the minute, they were digging into the bunkers (before the battle). The crowd gave him a hero’s welcome and all his family were there. He treated the crowd to a rendition of the greatest WWI poem ever ‘Flander’s Field’. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house and he got a standing ovation. A true hero and an absolute gentleman.”
It was then the turn of Emmett Cahill to wow the crowd accompanied by a pianist on a grand piano with “such a beautiful voice and composition and the crowd were really amazed by it. It was the perfect setting as the sun went down and at 10pm, we finished the show and have had 100 per cent positive feedback from all who were there.”
Marty thanked the Gardaí for an “amazing job and being so friendly, the Order of Malta who did a fantastic job, John and Julia and all the crew, and the Arts Centre who played a huge part.
We want to thank everyone who took a chance and went with us to bring a brand new event which we hope will be a regular in the festival calendar.”
Special thanks to all the Mearsecourt crew and to Nolan Sound, Frank Byrne and crew and Ollie Mulvey electrical, and the local media.