Turlough getting ready for biggest ever country life festival

Six-year-old Gráinne McDermott from Mayfield, Claremorris, is delighted by Amber the baby eagle owl from The Falconry at Mount Falcon Estate, at the official launch of Féile na Tuaithe 2015. Photo: Henry Wills.

Six-year-old Gráinne McDermott from Mayfield, Claremorris, is delighted by Amber the baby eagle owl from The Falconry at Mount Falcon Estate, at the official launch of Féile na Tuaithe 2015. Photo: Henry Wills.

The manager at the National Museum of Country Life in Turlough, Tony Candon, says the museum is preparing for the biggest ever influx of people to the site this weekend with some 25,000 expected to attend Féile na Tuaithe over the next two days.

Mr Candon said the free family festival started 10 years ago as a small, local, event to celebrate the traditions of rural life but is now well on its way to becoming one of Ireland's major summer festivals.

The historic 30-acre Turlough Park site will host more than 100 attractions, demonstrations, activities, and stalls throughout the grounds over two days on Saturday and Sunday, from 12 noon to 5pm.

The focus of the event is on traditional skills, crafts, food, and country life.

"It is much bigger than ever before," said Mr Candon. "There is a new food village, a craft retail village, more food retailers, celebrity cooks, more craft demonstrations, more entertainment; it is very exciting to see."

The festival launched in 2005 and grew each year up until 2011 when it was cancelled due to budgetary restrictions.

It returned in 2014 with a bang, attracting an impressive 22,000 visitors, making it one of the biggest National Museum projects in the country.

"What was a small local festival 10 years ago has become regional and is now going national," outlined Mr Candon. "People are talking about it, people are excited about it. It is becoming firmly established on the national festival scene."

Mr Candon said preparing the site for the event is a "huge logistical exercise" with seven major marquees in front of the striking 19th century Victorian Gothic Turlough House.

A host of smaller marquees, attractions, acts, and demonstrations will be interspersed throughout the immaculately kept grounds, creating a sprawling spread of colour, fun, and entertainment.

Some of the country's most skilled traditional crafts people will provide displays in areas such as beekeeping, thatching, wood turning, blacksmithing, and weaving.

Festivalgoers will be able to sample the produce of the region's artisan food and craft sector as well, with more than 25 local producers and crafters exhibiting.

Children's entertainment includes traditional games, storytelling, a fairy tree trail and scarecrow trail, face painting, and balloon twisting.

The animal village looks likely to be a hit with the young and the old with birds of prey, donkey shoeing, and an interactive talk on the old Irish goat among the top attractions there.

Other interesting offerings over the weekend include a bushcraft demonstration with McTire BushCraft in the craft village on Saturday and Sunday, the West of Ireland Spaniel Club Show Day on Saturday, and the vintage farm equipment exhibition.

On the music front, The Celtic Tenors are headlining and will perform on Saturday at 3.30pm.

This year's festival includes cooking demonstrations for the first time with celebrity chefs as well as some of the county's top award-winning chefs.

Entry to the festival is free and there is free parking in Turlough as well as free shuttle buses departing every 30 minutes from the library in Castlebar all weekend.

For more information on the festival, shuttle buses, entry, opening times, and parking, visit www.museum.ie or follow Féile na Tuaithe on Facebook and Twitter.

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