Ballymore Country Music Festival organisers not worried by clash with Fleadh
Music fans will be spoilt for choice on the bank holiday on August 1 – and that's not just because of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.
“Ballymore is back!” confirms Willie Finerty, chairperson of the hugely popular Ballymore Country Music Festival, headlined this year by Derek Ryan.
Ballymore is not worried that it is competing with a national entertainment event just 14 miles away: “In fact we see it as an opportunity,” says Willie. “The way we view it is that people who come for the fleadh might like a day out of town, and we're only 15 minutes out the road and we have an absolutely brilliant line-up.”
Derek Ryan's appearance marks a welcome return. The Carlow singer has performed at many of the gigs there in the past, and he has always been a firm favourite with the attendance.
Derek is just one of the big-name performers making a return: Johnny Brady is back, promising an enthralling set delivered in his trademark edgy energetic style; Robert Mizzell, Westmeath-based but with genuine US country roots honed in his native Louisiana brings both glamour and humour, and he is regarded as one of Ireland's top stars.
Local favourites The Sheerins always give a top-class show; Cliodhna Hagan is also a great favourite with crowds; Mayo's Gerry Guthrie is one of the “new guard” making it big while Offaly's Ciarán Rosney who has made the transition from a classical guitar background to country is definitely one not to miss.
Also performing is the noted Longford singer, Bríd Shaughnessy, while the warm-up acts are Offaly duo Saddle Tramp and Tyrrellspass performer Andy Feery.
Providing compering services to Ballymore since the revival of the festival has been the Sunday World's entertainment editor Eddie Rowley, and happily, Eddie is lined up to act as compere once again.
No expense has been spared in terms of the dance and sound facilities to give festival-goers the best experience possible: “We have a really good dance floor this year – up a serious notch from what we have had in the past,” says Willie.
“We also have a serious lighting and sound set-up arranged.”
The festival takes place at the Ballymore GAA grounds. The gates open at noon and the first band takes to the stage at 12.30.
“There is loads of parking on the site, and nearby we have a second carpark, and there will be a shuttle bus running to and from that carpark and from Ballymore village,” says Willie.
A real community affair, the event is organised by Ballymore GAA and Fr Dalton's Hurling Club, who put in days of effort in the run-up to the concert getting everything ready, and laying out the bales of straw that act as seating.
Ballymore has always prided itself on offering value for money: “We keep the ticket prices very affordable - €25 each – and children under 12 are admitted free as long as they are accompanied by an adult,” says Willie.
There is a tented bar on site, and in a new departure, the local Gaelic for Mothers and Others group are serving refreshments and freshly-made sandwiches on site.
The funds raised go towards the development of the local sports facilities and the focus at the moment is on having a gym provided at the GAA Club.
Tickets for the event can be bought online via the festival website, ballymorecountrymusicfestival.com
Locally, in Ballymore, they can be bought at Daybreak, Cassells' pub, Cunningham's pub and Rooney's pub.
They are also available in Mullingar at Rochfort's Superstore, the Sports Outlet and at Glanbia, Shandonagh.
Other places where tickets can be bought are: Athlone – Mary's of Athlone, JG Elite and the Shamrock Lodge; Moate – McCarthy's Centra and The Well; Kilbeggan – Centra; Moyvoyre – McCawley's; Waldersetown – petrol station; Tullamore – Tras.