30 Sept 2022

Offaly community welcomes festival period with open arms after 17 months of Covid

Offaly community welcomes festival period with open arms after 17 months of Covid

Birr Vintage Week makes a welcome return to the town this weekend. The organisers are urging people to get into the spirit of things.

After 17 months of a seemingly neverending pandemic that has had a cruel effect on our lives in so many different ways, it is with a sense of relief and keen anticipation that the people of Birr and surrounding region are looking forward to the three festivals which begin this weekend and will run for ten days.

All three festivals will be somewhat watered down (for obvious reasons) but they will still pack a punch and are a considerable step up from what was offered, what was possible, last year. None of the festivals will be able to operate at their pre-Pandemic full strength as the dreadful disease still has us in its grip but they will still be able to offer an awful lot.

The most prestigious and longest-running of the three festivals is Birr Vintage Week and Arts Festival which starts today (Friday, August 13 and ends next Friday. Birr Festival of Music has been a fixture for several years now and will make a very welcome return from August 20 to 22. Scripts, Ireland's Playwriting Festival, runs from August 12 to 15.

Caroline Conway of the very hardworking Vintage Week committee sent us in a short, thoughtful piece asking and answering the question, “What is Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival?”

“Vintage Week,” she said, “is a 53-year-old festival that means many different things to different people, but what many people do not realise is that the Vintage Week Committee only programme a fraction of the activities during the week. The variety and richness of the week comes from the addition of community events, be it the pubs, Tidy Towns, clubs or societies. These events are listed in the programme but are a whole community effort.

"This year we are again in restrictions and we have reimagined the traditional events to see how we can bring something of the Spirit of Vintage to town. The events programmed by the committee are the Parade, the Market, Fireworks Night, the Arts and Children’s events and while we are unable to stage events with large crowds, there will be plenty to entertain, particularly for the children.

"We will have the bunting up and are encouraging businesses to put up vintage window displays and for the community to dress up, with prizes for best windows and costumes. If any clubs or societies or individuals have events that can be run safely, we would love to see them in the festival, even at this late stage.

"We understand this past year and a half has been incredibly difficult for many businesses. With that in mind, we are changing our sponsorship this year to accommodate these difficult times. We have created the option to become a Friend of Birr Vintage Week where we are asking you to give what you can to our cause, to ensure the continuity of the festival. Thank you.”

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