From August 28 to 30 all eyes will be on the medieval town of Loughrea as it hosts a spectacular weekend of events at the town's second annual medieval festival.
Last year, 20 different free activities attracted 8,000 locals and visitors to the town over the two day period, and had a positive economic impact on the local economy. The festival is organised by a local committee, made up of volunteers from the community, with support from the Heritage Council, Irish Walled Towns Network, and the Galway County Council. Loughrea Medieval Festival won the Best Contribution to Heritage Award at The Cathaoirleach's Community Awards 2014. The award recognises the efforts that community groups have made to the heritage of their area.
The festival voluntary committee aim to bring greater awareness of Loughrea's uniqueness as home to the only surviving functioning moat in Ireland. Committee organiser Michelle Mitchell said of the impending festivities: "Last year's Loughrea Medieval Festival was a great success, with more than 8,000 people attending events. We wanted to build on that and have introduced some new aspects that will make it an even greater medieval experience. There literally is something for everyone."
Celebrating this year's theme, 'The Gathering of the Clans,' you are invited to partake in an evening of medieval inspired food, wine, merriment, and music as the Lough Rea Hotel and Spa hosts the Medieval Clan Banquet on Friday August 28.
Saturday August 29 includes heritage talks, a hurling match, the joust show at the Picnic in the Walks, a capturing medieval Ireland photo exhibition, walk and talk around the medieval town, a puppet theatre, and candlelit Mass in St Mary's Carmelite Abbey.
On Sunday August 30 following the grand clan parade, the fairgreen will come alive celebrating Loughrea Walled Towns Day with reenactments, weapons displays, craft demonstrations, birds of prey, hands on traditional craft making, food and craft market, medieval games, children's drop in arts and crafts, and lots more. Thanks to partnership with the Heritage Council, Irish Walled Town's Network, and Galway County Council, all events on Saturday and Sunday are free of charge.
Chairperson of the Loughrea Medieval Festival Committee, Michael Maher, said: "The partnerships between local businesses, local communities, Galway County Council, and the Heritage Council in developing the medieval festival is very welcome and much needed to support and sustain our community, our heritage, and be a driver for tourism for the town and hinterland.
"We are encouraging families living in Loughrea and the surrounding area to invite their relatives and friends to Loughrea for this festival weekend, to enjoy the medieval food and inn trail, and to participate in, and attend events over the weekend."