The sixth annual Fethard Medieval Festival takes place from Friday, August 17th to Sunday, August 19th and promises to be every bit as colourful, if not even more so, than in previous years.
The Fethard festival is now regarded as ‘the daddy of all medieval festivals’ as scores of people get decked out in medieval attire and the location of the festival fair on Sunday, August 19th - along by the Town Wall and the Clashawley River - must be the most ‘atmospheric’ in the whole country.
The highlight of the festival weekend is the parade (2pm on Sunday) from the Town Hall to the Valley Park where a tented village miraculously appears for the day.
The parade has bands, wolfhounds, Wobbly Circus, Humpty Dumpty , lots of knights and ladies and then a host of ‘camp followers’ who seem to just turn up and join in the fun. And, there are also prizes for best medieval costumes - female, male, group and three prizes for children.
There really is something for everyone in the Carnival Fair by the Town Wall on Sunday afternoon. The re-enactors strut their stuff, a folk-rock band from Drogheda lashes it out, the wheel of fortune spins out the winning numbers and the dunking tank never runs short of wet-shirt volunteers.
The dog show at 3.30pm has a place for all shapes and size of dog and this year a new historical prize for best Irish native breed has being added. Then there is a large activity tent for children, with arts and crafts and bio-diversity activity. The ever-popular falconer returns as does the real hog roast and Joe Channon brings his full scale forge that practices a trade that is as old as time.
The children’s ‘Humpty Dumpty on Fethard Wall’ art competition will be judged and Humpty himself will dish out the money prizes being sponsored by T Hennessy Spar in Fethard. Entries should be made to Community Office, Tirry Centre, phone 05261 310000, by 1pm on Friday).
This year Wolfhound Archaeology are coming with their major four-tented hands-on archaeology exhibit where the children - and adults - can get dug in and start looking for lost treasure or even a skeleton or two! This roadshow is a major coup for the festival and should prove a big hit with young and old alike.
Then there are craft stalls and demonstrations, a stone mason making a ‘Sheela na Gig’, stick makers, wood carvers, a silversmith hand-striking the Fethard Coin, a hand drummer giving workshops, an ABC quiz, a raffle and games and try your hand stands of all sorts.
Lastly, but not least, there are food stalls, a BBQ stall, an ice cream stall, tea/Coffee stalls and the aforementioned hog roast of course.
For those of you who want to watch the Tipperary’s All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny in a family friendly place the new state-of-the-art Youth Centre near the fair will show the match (free) in their mini cinema and, of course, the nearby bars will all be glad to see you as well.
A long awaited book Heraldic Memorials in Fethard by national expert Gerard Crotty will be launched on Saturday night, August 18th in the old Holy Trinity Church at 8pm.
This book explains the various family shield and memorials that are to be found in Fethard - on the Town Hall, Holy Trinity Church and in the Augustinian Abbey.
All and sundry are welcome to come to the launch which will be hosted by the Fethard Historical Society.
Members of the families mentioned in the book are especially encouraged to come along. The families mentioned are: Everard, Roche, Butler, Hackett, Barton, Cooke, Tobin, St John, Fitzgerald, Wall, Carran (Curran) Meagher, Jolly, Sankey, Purefoy, Poe, Frend and Palliser.
On Friday afternoon Backs to the Wall Tours (.com) have a guided historical tour at 2.30pm. Meet up at the new Youth Centre by Madam’s Bridge - no need to book, just turn up. The fee for adults is E5 and children go free.
A Silent Tour to Fethard’s Secret Places takes place on Saturday at 3pm. This is all a bit mysterious and will take about one and a half hours and you go where you are led and wait and see what happens. See website for booking details.
Information: Check out www.fethardfestival.com for the latest information on all events of the festival over the weekend.