By Dan Walsh in Ferns
The mid-day Bank Holiday parade was always going to be the highlight for many at the Festival of Ferns and the signs were positive long before the spectacle begins as families lined the streets and took up vantage viewing areas from early morning.
Setting off from the grounds of St. Eden’s Cathedral the parade invoked elements from the legend of St. Aidan and St. David and a representation of the crossing between Ireland and Wales back in the distant centuries.
The giant sea monster with moving mouth and large body carried a chain of performers accompanied by dancers animating fins and waves, bringing the sea monster to life.
The Horsemen of Éire cut quite a dash during the parade, dressed in medieval costume, and they did a jousting exhibition as the crowds gathered in the grounds of Ferns Castle.
Knight in period dress Paul Walsh played an exceptional role as master of ceremonies as he explained the historical features of Diarmait MacMurrough and Eva, the skills of the young hurling athletes, and generating the atmosphere beneath a clear blue sky and intense heat.
The Festival of Ferns was officially opened in the grounds of Ferns Castle on Monday by Cathaoirleach of Enniscorthy Municipal District Council, Cllr Aidan Browne, who pointed out that “This is very much a community driven project between the local Ferns Heritage Project, with the help of funding from the Ancient Connections programme,”
Ancient Connections is a 4-year EU funded project led by Wexford County Council and Pembrokeshire County Council (Wales) which aims to revive the ancient links between these two Celtic communities.
The two-day festival opened on Sunday with a top-class concert in St. Eden’s Cathedral, Ferns, featuring The Allabair Trio with vocalist Melanie O’Reilly, guitarist David Creevy and Uilleann piper Brewen Favreau, with guest local choir the Chord on Blues, and the concert premiered a new song cycle composed by Melanie alongside O’Carolan pieces and other favourites.
Speaking to WexfordLocal.com at Ferns, Melanie O’Reilly was very impressed by the enthusiasm shown at the concert. “We had a full house, and everyone enjoyed the concert. Great atmosphere. Thanks to Ferns for a great weekend,” she stated.
Participants in the festival included Ancient Connections/Ceangal Ársa/Cysylltiadau Hynafol, Lantern, Wexford County Council, Fearna Men’s Shed, Dunn Create, Small World Theatre, Horsemen of Éire, Medieval Ferns Experience, Enniscorthy Historical Re-enactment Society, Chord on Blues, Span Arts, Deirdre Furlong’s Dance School, Helena Dunbar’s School of Music and Bloco Garman.