Drogheda Harbourmaster Capt. Martin Donnelly previews this year's maritime festival for Afloat readers.
The Irish Maritime Festival, in association with Maxol, is going from strength to strength. The festival, hosted by Louth County Council and Drogheda Port Company, takes place at the Port next weekend (Saturday 9 and Sunday 10th July) and promises something fun for everyone.
ON THE WATER
Drogheda has a rich Maritime Heritage and the festival celebrates all that is good about the majestic river Boyne. The quayside is lined with ships of all sorts including The Spirit of Oysterhaven, the Celtic Mist, vintage lifeboats and customs cutters. There is an opportunity, when the tide is high, to board to these ships and to imagine what life is like on the high seas.
Weather permitting, Drogheda will welcome the truly beautiful 112ft long twin-masted Brigantine “The Phoenix”. The 4,000sq. ft. of sail, is instantly recognisable to movie lovers as “The Sancta Maria” from the epic film "1492: Conquest of Paradise", the fictionalised story of Christopher Columbus directed by Ridley.
The Spirit of Oysterhaven will arrive on Friday with a complete crew of trainees and depart with a new trainee crew again on Sunday.
A series of river races will take place including the 14 km long Inver Colpa Rowing Race from Clogherhead to Drogheda, the Howth to Drogheda yacht challenge and the legendary Drogheda Raft Race. Perhaps the most gruelling and personally challenging of all the races is the Boyne Swim, where 200+ swimmers of all ages will take to the river for the 2.5 km past the festival site. This year, the Boyne Swim welcomes a delegation of 25 swimmers who have travelled from Finland just to take part.
One of the festival innovations for 2016 is the addition of live cameras to track the activities on the river. A combination of steady cam and drone footage will be fed to a big screen broadcasting live on the festival site. You will also be able to see the on the water action by tuning in to the Irish Maritime Festival Facebook page where the final stages of all races will be broadcast live.
New for 2016 is the arrival of The Vikings. Watch out for a 45 strong marauding hoard as they take over Drogheda Port and go into battle twice daily. They'll take over and set up their Viking Village and giving visitors to the festival an idea what it's like to live like a Viking. Watch out for their two Viking ships docked at the festival site.
And no Maritime Festival in Drogheda would be complete without the return of our battling pirates. The S/V Vilma and Soteria will once again bring with them the ever popular duelling and duetting pirates who provide fun for visitors of all ages.
And keep your eyes peeled you might just see Captain Jack Sparrow leading the pirate parade.
Speaking of spectacles, keep your eye on the sky - there might just be a surprise in store.
And There’s Lots Happening On-Shore Too …
The festival grows bigger each year and Festival Producer Karen Healy explains "We're trying to grow and diversify the festival each year to ensure that there are new, interesting and exciting activities for all our visitors. We hope that the mix we have created this year will have something for everybody visiting the festival. The festival boasts a fashion, health and beauty zone with fashion shows, make up demos and celebrity bloggers James Patrice and The Make Up Fairy. An artisan food and craft brewing will feature local producers, cookery showcases, brewing and cocktail making lessons. Live music is a huge part of the 2016 festival. There will be 2 live music stages featuring a selection of Ireland's top up and coming artists. Visitors to the festival can chill out and relax in the summer sunshine and listen to these fabulous musicians as they give it their all on stage.”
The family friendly activities are, as always, fun for all.
“And the festival is not just for the grown-ups and teens” continues Festival Director Mary T. Daly of Louth County Council “There is of course a whole host of fun and family friendly activities at the Festival again this year. Kids can join the pirate parade, visit the Viking Village, touch the sea creatures in the marine touch pool, build their own paper boats, laugh at Punch and Judy and marvel at the magic show. They can take part in free art workshops, learn to be an archaeologist in the kids archaeology zone, take a selfie on Simple Simon's throne, build sandcastles on the urban beach, visit the whale and dolphin workshops and watch out for the fly borders on the river. And of course, there is a fantastic funfair to top it all off.
"So that's it, that's our line-up for this year and we hope to welcome both locals and visitors alike to Drogheda port for a wonderful weekend of fun" concludes Mary T Daly. "The festival runs on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th of July at Drogheda Port. Admission for a family is just €10 for the day and that includes two adults and two children. There are special prices for teens, students and senior citizens. You can find out more about the festival by visiting www.MaritimeFestival.ie and, on behalf of Louth County Council, we do hope that you will invite friends and family across the country and invite them to join you in Drogheda for a fabulous fun filled weekend."