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Carnivals, Marquees and Festivals (160 listed and counting)

The photo at the left is the Geesala Festival marquee taken in July 1982 (click on the photo to enlarge).

By the late 1950's Carnivals were a staple of life, especially in rural Ireland. Every parish had a carnival! The carnival (later to be known more as festivals) would run for usually about two weeks anytime between April and September. Early carnivals would provide a wide variety of entertainment over the span of the two weeks and were usually accompanied by amusements which would travel from town to town (much like the circus) and set up show in the next field. The scheduled events would always include at least 3-4 dances (featuring top orchestras of the day), 2-3 Ceili nights (this would often include waltz competitions), a fancy dress ball, a play or tewo put on by the local drama society, and maybe even a movie or two.   

Once a mainstay of rural social life in Ireland, the marquees (like the ballrooms) have all but disappeared. In the 60's and 70's most marquees were set up in fields for a couple of weeks by local organizations, like the G.A.A. club, to help raise funds for their annual operations, or to build a new clubhouse, or even fund a trip to play teams in the States. They were generally held in summer to take advantage of the "good" weather. Rarely ever dry, they usually consisted of a tent, some chairs, and a very wobbly stage (plywood sheets on empty beer kegs).

For bands, marquees were both a blessing and a curse. Usually they were well attended, being the single most important social "event" of the year for locals. In fact, the opening and closing night of a festival were usually guaranteed a packed house. On the other hand, facilities were extremely limited and in many cases, non existent. Bands had to change clothes in their vans, or behind the stage, or if they were lucky, a local house nearby where tea was served. Of course, if it was raining, the marquee was a nightmare. Click here or on the cartoon at right from the 1981 Festival of Avondale programme to get a better idea of the local view of marquee dancing!

Electrical power was usually dicey at best, and rarely strong enough to power a band's P.A., lighting rigs, and other gear. Stages were usually constructed of makeshift wooden platforms often teetering on empty beer kegs. The tent robbed the band's sound of all clarity and for miles around, all you could hear was the thud thud thud of the bass. It was like playing into a wet rag, literally. 

Still, many musicians consider them part of the "good old days," before the disco lights, before the hotel extensions and supper dances. A time when the evening's entertainment depended on a band's ability to keep the audience up and dancing, or on that rare occasion, when whatever the band was doing was so good, people just stood and watched!

To show just how diverse the events scheduled at festivals could be, here's the full page schedule of events from the 1981 Festival of Avondale, Rathdrum. Enjoy the memories!

 

Festival

Status

Annyalla Carnival, Castleblaney, Co. Monaghan Ran In Summer in mid 70's
Ardgroom Festival, Co. Cork Unknown
Arva Carnival, Co. Cavan Ran In The Early 70's
Ashbourne Festival, Co. Meath Unknown
Athleague Carnival, Co. Roscommon Ran in May in the early 70's
Aughnamullen Carnival, Co. Monaghan  
Bagenalstown Carnival, Co. Carlow  
Balla Carnival, Co. Mayo  
Ballinafad Easter Festival, Ballinafad, Co. Sligo Early Spring festival in the late 1960's-70's
Ballinalee Carnival, Co. Longford  
Ballinamore Carnival, Co. Leitrim  
Ballinasloe Carnival, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway  
Ballintubber Carnival, Co. Mayo  
Ballivor Festival, Co. Meath  
Ballybay Carnival, Ballybay, Co. Monaghan  
Ballybunion Bachelor Festival, Co. Kerry  
Ballyconnell Carnival, Co. Cavan Ran in the late 1960's
Ballyhaise Festival, Co. Cavan Ran in the early 70's
Ballygalley Carnival, Co. Antrim Ran in September in the late 1960's
Ballygar Carnival, Co. Galway Going strong since 1945 - Joseph Larkin
Ballymore Carnival, Ballymore, Co. Westmeath****  
Ballymote Carnival, Ballymote, Co. Sligo Ran in July in late 1950's through mid 1960's at least
Barefield Carnival, Co. Clare Ran in the early 70's
Barn Festival, Tullow, Co. Carlow Ran in July in late 1960's
Bawnboy Carnival, Co. Cavan Ran in the early 70's
Belturbet Carnival, Co. Cavan Ran in September in the late 1960's
Bennettsbridge Festival, Co. Kilkenny Gone
Birr Vintage Week Carnival, Birr, Co. Offaly Ran in August-September in late 1960's
Blacklion Carnival, Co. Cavan Ran in August in the late 1950's
Bohola Carnival, Co. Mayo Ran in the late 1950's
Borris Festival, Co. Carlow Ran in the early 70's
Borrisokane Festival, Co. Tipperary  
Bunninadden Carnival, Bunninadden, Co. Sligo Ran in June and started in 1964
Butlersbridge Carnival, Co. Cavan Ran in May and June, 1971
Carrick-on-Shannon Carnival, Co. Leitrim Ran in June in late 1950's
Castlebaldwin Carnival, Co. Sligo

Ran in August in late 1950's

Castlepollard Carnival, Co. Westmeath****  
Castlerea Park Festival, Co. Roscommon Ran in the mid to late 1960's
Cavan Carnival, Cavan, Co. Cavan Started in 1968 it ran for 5 weeks from July-mid August
Charleville Cheese Festival, Co. Cork  
Clifden Carnival, Co. Galway  
Cloncurry Hot Springs Festival, Cloncurry, Co. Kildare  
Clontibret Carnival, Co. Monaghan  
Cloonacool Marquee Festival, Cloonacool, Co. Sligo Ran in May in mid to late 60's
Collooney Carnival, Co. Sligo Ran in June in late 1950's
Colmcille Dancing Festival, Co. Longford Ran in July in mid 70's
Convoy Carnival, Co. Donegal Ran in July in late 60's
Corballa Dancing Festival, Corballa, Co. Sligo Ran in May in 1960's
Corrigeenroe Carnival, Co. Roscommon Ran in September in the late 1950's
Corofin Carnival, Co. Clare Ran in the early 70's
Craughwell Carnival, Co. Galway  
Croom Festival, Co. Limerick  
Crossmolina Nephin Festival, Co. Mayo Unknown
Daingean Carnival, Co. Offaly Ran in the late 1960's
Deenside Festival, Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny Ran in July in the mid 70's
Derrydonnell Carnival, Co. Galway Ran in the late 1960's
Donagh Carnival, Co. Monaghan  
Doonbeg Carnival, Co. Clare  
Dromod Carnival, Co. Leitrim Ran in the early 70's
Dromore West Carnival, Co. Sligo  
Drumcairn Carnival, Co. Armagh Ran in the early 70's
Drumlish Carnival, Drumlish, Co. Longford****  
Drumkeen Carnival, Co. Donegal Ran in May in the early 70's
Dungloe Carnival, Co. Donegal  
Dunshaughlin Carnival, Co. Meath Ran in the late 60's
Dunlavin Carnival, Co. Wicklow Ran in May in the early 70's
Durrow Carnival, Co. Laois Ran in July in the late 60's to mid 70's at least
Easkey Annual Festival, Seafield Hotel, Co.Sligo  
Edenderry Carnival, Co. Offaly Ran in the early 70's in May
Ennistymon Carnival, Co. Clare Ran in the early 70's
Eskra Carnival, Eskra, Co. Tyrone Ran in summer in mid 70's
Ferbane Carnival, Ferbane, Co. Offaly Ran in June in the late 60's
Ferns Carinval, Ferns, Co. Wexford  
Festival of Avondale, Rathdrum  
Festival of the Shannon, Carrick On Shannon, Co.Leitrim Ran in July in the mid 1960's
Ford's Cross Carnival, Co. Armagh Ran in August in the late 1960's
Freshford Carnival, Freshford, Co. Kilkenny  
Garristown Carnival, Co. Dublin Held in July/August in late 60's
Geesala Festival, Co. Mayo  
Glasson Carnival, Co. Westmeath Rain the 60's and early 70's (thanks to Tommy Lowry)
Glenbower Festival, Killeagh, Co. Cork Early 70's
Glenamaddy Carnival, Co. Galway Early 70's Summer
Glenravel Festival, Co. Antrim Ran in the late 1960's
Glenswilly Carnival, Co. Donegal Ran in late 1960's
Gormanstown Carnival, Gormanstown, Co. Meath****  
Hackettstown Carnival, Co. Carlow  
Headford Carnival, Headford, Co. Galway Ran in summer in mid 70's
Kenmare Carnival, Kenmare, Co. Kerry Ran in August in mid 70's
Kilcock Festival, Kilcock, Co. Kildare
Kilcrickle Carnival, Loughrea, Co. Galway
Kildorrery GAA Mid Summer Festival, Cork Active
Kileagh Carnival, Co. Offaly Ran in the late 1960's
Kilfeakle Carnival, Kilfeakle, Co. Tipperary Held in May in 1975
Kilkishen Carnival, Co. Clare
Killala Summer Festival, Co. Mayo
Killaloe Carnival, Killaloe, Co. Clare
Killare Big Band Carnival, Co. Westmeath**** Held in July in late 60's
Kilmactranny Carnival, Co. Sligo Ran in August in the late 1950's
Kilmihill Carnival, Co. Clare Ran in the early 70's
Kilnaleck Carnival, Co. Cavan Ran in the late 1960's
Kiltegan Carnival, Kiltegan, Co. Wicklow
Kinsale Regatta, Kinsale, Co. Cork*
Lackagh Carnival, Lackagh, Co. Sligo Ran in mid May late 1960's
Lanesboro Carnival, Co. Longford Ran in September in the late 1960's
Laragh Carnival, Co. Cavan Ran in September in the late 1960's
Latton Carnival, Latton, Co. Monaghan
Lavey Carnival, Lavey, Co. Cavan Ran in June in the late 1960's
Leixlip Festival, Co. Kildare Ran in the late 1960's
Lepp Festival, Co. Cork
Lissycasey Carnival, Co. Clare Ran in the early 70's
Longford Carnival, Co. Longford Ran in July in late 60's
Longford Slashers Carnival, Co. Longford Ran in summer in mid 70's
Lough Gara Hotel Carnival, Co. Roscommon Ran in June in the late 1950's
Loup Carnival, Co. Derry Ran in September in the late 1960's
Maghera Carnival, Co. Derry Ran in August in the late 1960's
Manorhamilton Mid Summer Carnival, Co. Leitrim Ran in the mid to late 60's
Mary From Dungloe Festival, Glenties, Co. Donegal*
Menlough Carnival, Co. Galway Ran in the late 1960's
Millstreet Festival, Co. Cork
Milltown Festival, Co., Cavan Ran in the early 70's
Miltown Malbay Marquee, Co. Clare Ran in the mid 70's
Moynalty Carnival, Co. Meath Ran in the early 60's (thanks to James Sheridan)
Moville Carnival, Co. Donegal Ran in July in late 60's
Mullingar Carnival, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath****
Naas carnival, Naas, Co. Kildare Ran in June in late 60's
Nephin Festival, Crossmolina, Co. Mayo
Old Lama's Fair, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim Ran in July in mid 70's
Oram Carnival, Co. Monaghan
Pallaskenry Carnival, Co. Limerick
Piltown Carnival, Co. Kilkenny Ran in May in the early 70's
Rathangan Carnival, Co. Kildare Ran in the late 1960's
Rathdowney Carnival, Co. Laois Ran in the late 1960's our thanks to Padraig Barry
Robertstown Carnival, Co. Kildare Ran in the late 1960's
Rockingham Carnival, (near Boyle), Co. Roscommon Ran in August in the late 1960's
Rose of Tralee Festival
Scotstown Carnival, Co. Monaghan
Sheep Shearing Festival, Millstreet, Co. Cork Run by Macra na Feirme
Shelagh Carnival, Crossmaglen, Co. Armagh Ran in the early 70's
Sixmilecross Carnival, Co. Tyrone Ran in August in the late 1960's
Skibbereen Festival, Co. Cork
Stradbally Carnival, Co. Laois Ran in the late 1960's our thanks to Padraig Barry
Stradone Carnival, Co. Cavan
Strandhill Carnival, Co. Sligo Ran in August in 1958 by Sean Byrne of the Silver Slipper
Strangford Carnival, Co. Down Ran in the late 1960's
Skreen Carnival, Co. Sligo

Ran in August in the late 1950's

Summerhill Festival, Co. Meath
Swanlinbar Carnival, Swanlinbar, Co. Cavan Ran in summer in the mid 70's
Swinford Festival of Dancing, Swinford, Co. Mayo Ran in July and August, mid 1960's
Swords Festival, Co. Dublin
Templeboy Carnival, Co. Sligo Ran in mid May in the late 1950's
Templemore Festival, Co. Tipperary Gone
Tibohine Carnival, Co. Roscommon Ran in September in the late 1950's
Timahoe Carnival, Co. Laois Ran in the late 1960's our thanks to Padraig Barry
Toomebridge Carnival, Toomebridge, Co. Antrim Ran in May in the early 70's
Tourmakeady G.A.A. Festival, Co. Mayo
Trim Festival (Town Hall), Trim, Co. Meath
Tubbercurry Festival of Dancing, Co. Sligo Ran in September in the late 1950's
Tullamore Harriers Carnival, Co. Offaly Late 1960's Carnival
Tully Carnival, Co. Roscommon Early 70's July Carnival
Turloughmore Carnival, Co. Galway Ran in the early 1970's in Spring
Tyholland Carnival, Tyholland, Co. Monaghan Held in late May, early June, early 1970's
Virginia Carnival, Co. Cavan Ran in the early 70's
Westport Cailin Deas Festival, Co. Mayo
Whitegate Carnival, Co. Clare Ran in July/August in late 60's
Woodbrook Festival, Carrick On Shannon, Co. Leitrim May to June, mid 1960's

 


2002-2015 GMS Productions

In Loving Memory of Grant Gallagher: Sept. 21, 1990 - Nov. 18, 2006