Third time is the charm as Abhainn Rí Festival returns

The countdown comes to an end this Friday and the opening ceremony is set to begin – not just of the London Olympics but also of Callan’s third annual Abhainn Rí Festival.

The countdown comes to an end this Friday and the opening ceremony is set to begin – not just of the London Olympics but also of Callan’s third annual Abhainn Rí Festival.

The Abhainn Rí Festival of Participation and Inclusion kicks off on Friday for Year 3. In spite of the recession and disastrous weather, there is a fantastic programme for the week and all systems are ‘go.’

Friday is opening night with the start of the Callan Heritage Society’s conference on the O’Tunneys in the Friary, with an outstanding programme of speakers and tours. And on a lighter note, there is the OlymPicnic – all are invited to bring a picnic or buy food from the pubs/food providers in Green Street, at the old Co-op, where the opening festivities of the London Olympics will be projected on a big screen, followed by a dance with the Sheehan’s in the Co-op.

Saturday brings a string of exhibition openings, starting in the Workhouse chapel and continuing down through many venues in the town with a trad night in Hourigan’s of Bridge Street to cap it off.

The festival had to bow to the real culture of Kilkenny – hurling, of course! – and the Field Day scheduled for Sunday, with the Rock the Boat world record attempt, has been postponed until August 5. That leaves the highlight of the day as a Polish meal in Scruffy Duffy’s. This will showcase a popular Polish stew – known as Bigos – that everyone will enjoy and is traditionally accompanied by plenty of beer. All are invited to join your Polish workmates and neighbours and share a great evening.

Monday sees the start of a new feature – lunchtime tours of heritage features of the town that locals may take for granted but are full of interest. Monday will bring you to Keogh’s bakery, one of the few traditional bakeries in the country that bake the famed Rustic, with its unique ovens.

Tuesday has the Amhlaoibh Ó Súilleabháin tour, following the trail of Callan’s noted diarist, and Wednesday reveals the secrets of St Mary’s in Green Street, a gem of the medieval period.

Monday evening presents another local treasure, the birthplace of Brother Edmund Ignatius Rice at Westcourt. The old cottage will be open and there will also be an evening devoted to the charism of this great religious and social figure. On the pub entertainment front, Monday will be a charmer in The Big Wheel, with Castlecomer’s Minstrels providing sing-a-along hits from the good old days.

Tuesday brings an annual highlight – the Coillte guided walk of a local wood. This year it will be through the People’s Millennium Forest at Coill na Fhaltaigh – turn in at Tinnypark and park in the forest car park. And the later evening features a session with Joe Kearney, frequent reader on Sunday Miscellany, with contributions from local poets. And Robert Little, well-known storyteller, will entertain with “There’s No I in Tea” at Fennelly’s.

And that’s only the first half of the week! All is invited to get in the swing of it all and build up the momentum toward a range of theatre and music treats that will come to a climax in the finale of August 5 – it’s all happening in Callan!