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FÉILE Brian Ború takes place for the 29th time in Killaloe-Ballina this week, in what promises to be a unique celebration of the area.

The Féile Brian Ború website (http://www.feilebrianboru.com/) explains that the festival celebrates the life and legacy of Ború, Ireland’s most famous high king and the most famous son of the twin towns. However, a quick glance at the festival programme and it’s clear that the event (which runs Wednesday July 6 to Sunday July 10) has evolved into something much more than that.

“It has really,” admits Treasurer Arlene White, who has been on the Féile Brian Ború committee since 2001. “That was the initial thing, that it would be a commemoration of Brian Ború over the years but it’s become a celebration of the town and everything we have to offer. So it’s not only history and heritage, it’s arts, culture, and the water which is a huge part as well.”

Much of the activities are “linked back to Brian Ború” in a nod to the festival’s origins. Art workshops with emphasis on fairies, warriors, swords, shields, and battle flags; a talk in Brian Ború fort on the wild food that was consumed at the time of Ború; a historical lecture in St Flannan’s Cathedral which kicks off proceedings on Wednesday.

However, life on Lough Derg lends itself to the outdoors and this is also reflected in the festival programme. There are kayaking taster sessions on the canal; sailing taster sessions with the sailing club on the lake; an LED flyboarding display; guided walking tours of Killaloe and St Flannan’s Cathedral; Thrive, a local gym, is offering a free fitness class from Wednesday to Saturday; and of course the popular fireworks display on Saturday night which is expected to attract thousands of revellers.

And that’s only touching on a five-day programme packed with activities and outings, including a garden party at the Lakeside Hotel, a dogshow in aid of Limerick Animal Weelfare, a gardening workshop, the inaugrial classic car and coffee event, and an emergency services open day which will include a centenary exhibition at the garda station.

Arlene notes her gratitude for support from the local community but admits it’s a “fairly hectic” time for the committee of four which also includes Cillian O’Mara, Eugene McDonagh and Paddy Collins. She adds that the presence of former chairperson John Grimes is sorely missed since he passed away in January 2021. “He had been involved for so long, since 1993, and it wouldn’t have kept going without him. He loved Killaloe, loved the Féile and the sailing, the St Patrick’s Day parade, anything to do with the community.”

While a hybrid version of the event was held last year which was “very much online”, Arlene says she’s most excited about seeing visitors and locals filling the streets for the duration of the highly-anticipated festival.

“I think it will just be nice to see people out enjoying the events, the fireworks or the watching the flyboarding display, getting on the water. Just to see people out enjoying themselves, it’s been a long time, it’s 2019 since we had a proper event.

“In a sense running it online last year has showed us that we can change things up a little bit. We did a Brian Boru Boogie – a mobile disco – and we’re doing it again this year where our DJ will go around in a truck or a van to two different locations for the kids to dance for around 45 minutes. So, it has changed things a little bit, hopefully for the better.”

Arlene notes the support of Clare County Council and Tipperary County Council, and despite being from the Eastern side of the bridge she insists, “I class it as one town and a lot of people do,” conceding, “In hurling terms, it’s the only time it’s an issue.”

Arlene encourages people to arrive and enjoy proceedings however some events must be booked in advance on Eventbrite via the website or Facebook page. For more info, visit http://www.feilebrianboru.com/

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