The rest of Ireland take note: there will be twelve months of celebration in Carrick-on-Shannon next year as the county town gets set to mark it’s 400th anniversary.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar took time out of his busy schedule to launch the festival programme last Thursday, June 21 at Waterways Ireland Visitor Centre in Dublin. The national launch was organised to give people all over Ireland the chance to pick their preferred weekend, week or month to join in the massive celebrations planned for Carrick next year. Leitrim Tourism and Carrick-on-Shannon Chamber of Commerce are expecting big visitor numbers to the town for the celebrations from at home and abroad.
The launch was attended by Carrick and Leitrim dignitaries, supporters and natives who wanted to be part of this special event.
In 2013, it will be 400 years since King James 1st granted the town charter to Carrick, a lot has gone under the bridge since then and the months of events will try to reflect the present, past and future of the beautiful Shannon based town. The 2013 programme will incorporate the arts, music and sport of the county and as marina capital of Ireland, the Shannon will of course play a major role in the festivities.
Minister Varadkar praised the variety of events and attractions already set down for next year, he said “Festivals like this will play a crucial role in the run-up to the Gathering Ireland 2013, the year old event taking place across Ireland throughout next year.” He said he is hoping to visit Carrick next year. Minister Varadkar said he looks forward to seeing the history of the town brought to life.
A short film which is available online was shown at the launch, featuring a number of well known people around the town speaking about Carrick and the planned celebrations.
Dermot Gallagher native of Carrick, spoke about the town’s “voyage” over the past 400 years including plantation, famine, land wars, border challenges, social and economic hardships, he said what is special about Carrick is that societies and clubs are part of every day life. He said the people of Carrick have also been very embracing of new residents and establishing new clubs to meet their needs.
The 400th anniversary celebrations will begin in February 2013 when Carrick Rowing Club, the oldest rowing club in Ireland (it will be 177 years old next year) will be hosting the ‘Head of the Shannon’.
The 2013 celebrations will be officially launched in March and will introduce events such as the John McGahern Summer School in May, the return of the June Bank holiday weekend, the Carrick Water Music Festival, the Connaught Fleadh in July, the Shannon Boat Rally also in July, Regatta in August, a Literary Heritage Week and Leitrim Roots Festival in September, Session on the Shannon in October and a closing 400th ceremony in November. The town will also host the Connacht Community Games and a host of sporting and family events.
Cathaoirleach of Leitrim County Council John McTernan said “This historic milestone is of huge significance to not only the town and the county but also to the international footprint of Carrick and Leitrim natives.
“This celebration provides us with the opportunity to put our best foot forward and deliver our message around the world that Carrick-on-Shannon and Leitrim is a fantastic place to live and visit. We have a rich heritage that is matched by the beauty of our surroundings and embraced by the warmth of our welcome.”
Sinead McDermott Tourism Officer said “Carrick-on-Shannon is rapidly establishing itself as one of the most progressive and fastest growing inland resorts in Ireland.”
The launch event attracted some national media attention, it is expected the festival will form a big part of Discover Ireland and Failte Ireland’s promotion later this year and in 2013.
For information and updates on Carrick-on-Shannon 400 celebrations see: www.carrickonshannon400.ie or follow Leitrim Tourism on Facebook or Twitter.