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Letterkenny Folk Festival is back with a bang

IT was an international event that attracted high profile names and thousands on to the streets of Letterkenny – now the town’s Folk Festival is being revived to mark the 50th anniversary of the original.

After months of organisation, a committee is busy finalising the programme for the festival which will run from Thursday evening, August 22 through to Sunday 25.

And it is a programme that will do full justice to its predecessor.

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Former Eurovision Song contest winner, Charlie McGettigan, will perform the official opening of the revised festival at An Grianán Theatre on the Thursday at 7pm.

It will launch a series of events that will, in the words of chairperson, Johnny McCollum, “have the town buzzing”.

Some of the top acts in the music industry have been pencilled in to perform on the festival gig rig while the international element will be evident with the presence and performances of Russian, Polish and Indian dancers.

The idea for a revival of the Folk Festival took hold earlier in the year as groups of local people wondered how to mark that 50th anniversary. And how better than to bring the event back to life again.

The Letterkenny Heritage Group had been one of the organisations planning to mark the half century since the launch of the first Folk Festival and got together with local councillor, Ciaran Brogan, and Paddy Kelly, to put ideas into action.

Since last April the committee has been involved in putting together a programme that promises quality entertainment and fun.

Among the acts performing on the Friday night of the festival are Rory and The Island along with the Dublin City Ramblers, who like Charlie McGettigan, took to the stage during the original Letterkenny Festival.

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On the Saturday night, the gig rig will feature the highly acclaimed Johnny Brady and Jim Devine while the former frontman of Skid Row, one of Ireland’s most popular bands from the past, Brush Shiels will make a welcome return to a Donegal stage.

Outdoor venues will include the County Library, Market Square, the Post Office, the Old Courthouse, and the theatre, – also stepping into view will be the husband and wife pairing, Frank and Eileen Sweeney, whose Irish dancing routines have enthralled audiences including those at the Letterkenny Memories nights.

Former Eurovision winner, Ballyshannon musician Charlie McGettigan who will perform at the newly revived festival.

Other events include a walking tour of Letterkenny with members of the Cathedral Quarter, a treasure hunt on the Friday, and a busking festival.

On the Sunday, the competitive element continues with the Festival Road Relay Races, to be hosted by the Letterkenny Athletic Club from 10am at the Pearse Road.

And want to climb up on your soap box? Then get out the necessary materials and enter your own for the Soap Box derby from 2pm.

The St Eunan’s GAA club will on the Sunday host a family fun day at O’Donnell Park which will feature a whole range of activities including adult and childrens’ races, a fancy dress competition, arts and craft events, animal farm, Glamorous Granny and Trendiest Granda, and a whole host more.

One of the many popular features of the original Folk Festival was the pub singing competition and this has also been earmarked into the programme of events.

Sponsorship for the festival has been generated through the Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce, local councillors, and the vintners.

Among the organisations involved include the Community Development Project, the Cathedral Quarter, the Heritage Group, the Letterkenny Historical Society, the Letterkenny Youth Club, local community representatives and business concerns.

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