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*Zoe Fenton makes some Arts and Crafts at the Scariff Harbour Festival. Photograph: Natasha Barton

In the week of David Trimble’s death, the impact of the Good Friday Agreement in connecting communities North and South was remembered in Scariff over the weekend.

Stewart Dickson, Alliance Party MLA for East Antrim acknowledged the work of the inaugural first Minister and that of the late John Hume when he opened Scariff Harbour Festival on Friday evening.

“We must appreciate the role of community festivals in keeping North South links alive, allowing us to celebrate our roots and build networks,’ he said. ‘Across the provinces, people want to engage with all of Ireland. Undoubtedly we all feel an affinity with this island. It is seen here today and in festivals right across Ireland,” said the former Mayor of Carrickfergus.

He also acknowledged the cultural, economic and historic nature of our waterways and thanked Waterways Ireland for continuing its efforts and demonstrating how local people and organisations can work together and celebrate culture and natural amenities. Also addressing the opening were the Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Tony O’Brien (FF) and Eanna Rowe, Western Regional Manager of Waterways Ireland, while present were TDs, Michael McNamara (IND) and Joe Carey (FG) and local councillors Pat Hayes (FF), Pat Burke (FG) and Joe Cooney (FG).

Despite a massive downpour on Saturday, the sun shone and the crowds came out in their numbers to bring the festival to a close on Sunday night. Harry O’Meara of the Harbour Festival Committee said how great it was to be back after a two hiatus of Covid-19. “Hopefully events such as ours up and down the country can start to resume successfully once again,” he said.

Martin Hayes spoke and played to a most appreciative audience at Scariff Library following the publication of his memoir Shared Notes – A Musical Journey, while local emigrant stories were brought alive at the harbour by professional genealogist Jane Halloran Ryan. Outdoor walks and talks were partly hampered by the inclement weather but the spirits weren’t completely dampened for a wide range of street activities enjoyed by young and old.

Mike Rodgers, Chair of the Harbour Festival Committee expressed his utmost gratitude to the small but fully committed team who continue to make the Festival a success. “Not even the bad weather stops us”. He added, “We have learned over the years to deal with the challenges it brings” and acknowledged the loyal support of the festival goers, visitors and sponsors big and small, including EKO Integrated Services, who have recently taken over the Finsa Forest site in Scariff.

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