BY JOHN MULDOWNEY
AS EVER, the absolute highlight has to be Arranmore itself. Such a beautiful place just a 15 minute ferry ride from Burtonport, it really has to be experienced to be believed. The welcome we receive from islanders young and old alike is food for the soul.
To give you an idea of how lovely the people are I was told of a wonderful lady who lives beside the festival site, Madgie ‘Sailor’ Boyle, who kept our stewards warm with soup and sandwiches as they stood in the rain keeping the traffic moving. This was no one-off! Madgie’s door is always open for tea and a yarn or two, always happy despite the loss of her legs some years ago.
The acts this year have raised the bar yet again with amazing performances on all four stages. It’s such a great feeling to see each act try to both outdo the previous one and set the challenge for the next up, and with such an appreciative crowd to encourage them you can taste the energy in the air.
Stáitse na Spiorad Spéartha hosted a fantastic variety of performers including Barry Krishna, Abby Oliviera, Twin Headed Wolf and the mighty Bunoscionn who mesmerised the crowd with their ‘Trad Side of the Moon’.
The Dave Muldowney stage was jam-packed with some of the finest bands in the country; Derry was very well represented by Ports, The Clameens, Wood Burning Savages and John Deery and the Heads all cranking it to the delight of the crowd. Local music collective Andromeda Artisans had its roster out in force with In Their Thousands (who named the festival!), Our Native State, Mark Black and the Trips, Kate O’Callaghan, Rosie Carney and Clanns delivering sets that stand as testament to the originality and vibrancy of the music scene in the North West that has developed over the last few years.
The magic is enhanced by the inspiring use of everyday materials by the arts team in creating beautiful spaces on the site, the approaches and the beach.
Special mention must go to Eben Barnard who not only created a wonderful tetrahedron projection show on Sunday, but also is the artist responsible for the stunning ‘Fishes and Birds’ MC Escher recreation on the pier wall at the ferry port on the island.
See tomorrow’s Donegal News on Friday for more pictorial coverage from Swell Music & Arts Festival.