This years Ranelagh arts festival was undoubtedly the most ambitious and extensive proggramme planned by our organizing committee.
It was ambitious in that this year we covered a wide range of artistic events and indeed branched out into fresh and previously unexplored ground by taking what some ‘people’ thought was an undue risk, in bringing Jimmy White and John Virgo to Ranelagh to take part in The Ranelagh Snooker Challenge with our own Ken Doherty.
We were also ambitious in planning the most comprehensive proggramme ‘As gaelige’(Irish language events) combined with a record number of events stretching from Friday, September 24th( to Sunday 3rd of October.
I am delighted to report that The Festival was an outstanding success in almost every way and brought unprecedented attention from the national media. For instance our festival launch attended by The Lord Mayor, Councilor Gerry Breen and the wonderful Maureen O’Hara (Ranelagh born and bred) secured the front page of Ireland’s biggest selling paper ‘The Irish Independent’ and a major photograph and report in The Irish Times along with wide coverage in other national papers on the morning after Culture Night. This is a huge achievement when one thinks of the fantastic success that ‘Culture Night’ currently is, with nearly every city, major town and region taking part in what is now the premier show case of ‘Culture’ in Ireland. Considering the funding for ‘public relations’ alone that these ‘areas’ would have available, it is nothing short remarkable that the major newspaper in Ireland would ‘hold the front page’ for Ranelagh. What a success by our P.R. Team lead by Myra McAulliffe who pulled off the P.R coup of the21st century on a less than zero budget .
The Ranelagh Snooker Challenge was also another huge success bringing a record crowd for a Ranelagh Arts Festival ticketed event to the magnificent Sandford Park Auditorium. It was the most good humoured, enjoyable sporting exhibition many of us ever attended and Jimmy, Ken and John were unstinting with their time, ‘meeting and greeting’ so many people. Later they showed us that they could ‘relax’ as well as entertain, when we adjourned to ‘McSorleys’ for a ‘ Rock and Soul Spectacular’ featuring Bree Harris and her Band which captivated a very large audience until the wee small hours (McSorleys has a late night extension). Again due to Ken’s generosity we got major national coverage for the event, for the festival, for Ranelagh and for the arts in general.
The Big Parade and The Family Fun Day in Ranelagh Gardens brought the greatest crowd to Ranelagh for many’s the long year when the children of our four national schools provided us with a fantastically colorful parade and a great atmosphere. Once again the weather came good for us in what is always a tricky time of the year weather wise.
I think it can also be said that the ethos; the core value’s of our festival were as strongly represented as ever and its always a great pleasure seeing groups of people of all ages walking around the highways and byways of Ranelagh taking part in the historical/architectural walks and talks, visits to Helen Dillons Garden, poetry readings, music in bars and restaurants and street performance’s that have proved to be an annual ‘hit’ with residents and visitors alike.
There were a number of ‘cult’ hits namely, Diarmuid Curraoin’s lecture on Joyce in Sandford Park School, John Mulchay’s riveting discourse on Arts patronage in St Philips Church, David Heaps one man show about Swift in Cullenswood House, Brendan Ellis’s play at our Venue in 26 Ranelagh and Emily Conways Jazz Concert in Ranelagh Market.
Highlights of our Visual Arts programme included ‘Takeaway Triangle’ (which received national coverage) on the Triangle and ‘Pause’ a hugely popular ‘art trail’ that brought art lovers on an ‘engaging’ tour of the Village. Combined with the ‘Art in the Windows’ exhibition it insured that we had a highly visual ‘Visual Arts’ proggramme.
Our old friends the Ranelagh Singers and The Ranelagh Players were as usual excellent, their events very well attended and very well received.
Na Cassaidigh in Scoil Bhride,for lovers of traditional music was a very special occasion in a wonderful cabaret setting a great tribute to that schools’ ‘Cumann na dTuismithoiri’ who worked so selflessly to provide the ideal atmosphere for a not to be forgotten concert .
Legendary American musician Jim Rooney was joined by a host of Ireland’s ‘finest’ including, Philip Donnelly, Mick Hanly and Chris Meehan in a ‘Hootenanny’ that had the audience in Mount Pleasant Tennis Club hollering for more’. It was a great honour having Jim Rooney taking part in the festival and already we are planning more of the same for next year in ‘The Tennis Club’ which is always such a popular venue for festival events.
The writer John Banville in conversation with Vincent Woods was a great occasion and brought us another ‘first’ as the occasion was recorded by RTE and broadcast later in the month.
When one thinks that we are now in the middle of a ‘recession’, that we were able to ‘pay the bills’ and show a small and manageable loss for such a comprehensive proggramme is a tribute to all those that took part in organizing, planning and ‘volunteering’ for the festival.
Our thanks go to all those local business’s and individuals who sponsored us this year. Local sponsorship, I am delighted to say is the biggest percentage of our income and I sincerely hope as we continue to ‘grow the festival’ and retain/increase media attention that they will all feel they are getting ‘a bang for their buck’.
I mbliana, bhí níos mó imeachtaí trí Ghaeilge ná riamh ar chlár na Féile, agus d’éirigh thar bharr leo. Bhí an-éilimh ar Frásleabhar Raghnallach, agus tá sé curtha in ath-chló ag Foras na Gaeilge. Tá cóipeanna ar fáil in Uimhir 26 anois.
Thanks to all the wonderful schools, Sandford Park, Ranelagh Multidenominational School, Scoil Bhride, Lios na nOg and Sandford National School, their Principles, Staff and Boards for taking part and allowing us to use their facilities. Put simply; there could be no festival without them.
A special thanks to The Rev. Sonia Gyles and her Select Vestry for the use of Sandford Parish Church and St.Phillips, Milltown, to all in Dublin City Council, South East Area (our very,very,best friends) for help above and beyond the call of duty , The Gardai in Donnybrook (always prepared to come to our rescue), local politicians for their generous support that we can always depend on, all the performers who came from far and wide and beyond the sea, to David Patton and Gavin in Paragaon who designed our proggramme, helped us unstintingly throughout the year and gave such great and invaluable publicity in the local newspaper ‘Town and Village, to John o’Loughlin in Irish International Print who sponsor and print the proggramme and in particular to the people of Ranelagh, young and old for their annual support and the ‘Cead mile failte’ that they extend to visitors that makes our village such an ideal place to have an Arts Festival that has repeatedly gained national coverage and which we feel confident will ‘run and run’ and be apart of cultural life in our great city for many’s the year to come.