A group of individuals from Athlone, Moate and north Westmeath are presently representing Ireland at the European People’s Festival in Lithuania from Saturday 21 to Saturday 28 July.
The festival is taking place in Radviliskis, Lithuania a town located in central Lithuania with a population of circa 17,000 people. It is also the regional administrative capital of the Radviliškis district. This is the first time Lithuania has hosted the European Festival.
Athlone has represented Ireland at the European People’s Festival since its inauguration in 1992, with Libramont in Belgium being the first host town. It is estimated that over 1,500 people from the area have represented Athlone at the festival over the years.
Acknowledging the occasion, Town Mayor, Cllr. Frankie Keena said, “Athlone Municipal District is delighted to be associated with the European People’s Festival and has hosted the event successfully on two occasions, in 1996 and 2010. It has proved invaluable in developing relationships with participating European member countries and team members and has served as a unique promotional platform to promote Athlone & environs over the years.”
The Mayor only recently welcomed the Lithuanian Ambassador to Athlone and spoke to him about the success of the festival and the blossoming relationship between the Irish and Lithuanian teams. The Mayor will join the Irish team at the festival and is looking forward to experiencing the festival and learning more about Lithuania as he is keen to work closely with the Lithuanian Ambassador on developing educational, cultural and economic collaborations.
During the activity laden week, the Irish team will participate in sporting, cultural and promotional competitions and events over the including soccer, basketball, pétanque, beach tennis, swimming, painting, street theatre, photography and cookery demonstrations. The performance of traditional Irish music, song and dance is always one of the highlights of the festival. The vast array of tourism experiences on offer in Athlone and the surrounding Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands region will be promoted at the Irish stand which will display Athlone at the heart of it material and literature on the town, Lough Ree and tourism facilities.
The current voluntary committee comprises Tom O’ Connor, Patricia Cleary and Louise Elliffe. It is overseen by Municipal Manager, Pat Keating, Co-Ordinator, Carmel Duffy, and elected member, Cllr Paul Hogan.