Thousands head to Victoria's Portarlington for 'good, spirited Irish craic'



June 12, 2017 17:27:32

More than 15,000 people have celebrated the Celtic spirit at Portarlington’s annual National Celtic Festival, in Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula.

The three-day festival got toes tapping with a number of traditional Celtic bands from around the world, including Gaelic group Fèis Rois, which is made up of emerging young artists from the highlands of Scotland.

Regular feature at the festival, Claddagh, who have been travelling to play Celtic favourites at the festival for 10 years, said they loved coming back and seeing the crowds at their shows grow.

The Shamrock Sheilas, originally from Ireland, joined the band for a rousing performance for about 200 festival-goers.

“We have no set list, the crowd decides what we play. It’s just good, spirited Irish craic,” Mary McEvilly-Butler from the Shamrock Sheilas said.

“People are so proud of their Irish heritage and their Celtic heritage. We just think it’s such an honour and pride to be playing this music overseas.”

A highlight of the festival was a limerick competition, with judges narrowing dozens of entries down to just two.

The humorous five-line poems must have the first, second and fifth lines rhyming.

Fèis Rois read out the two poems in the middle of a set and a winner was picked based on how loud the laughter and applause was.

It was a limerick about a traditional Irish dance and a young girl named Hayley which won over the crowd.

“A young Celtic lass known as Hayley,

“Would practice her dancing skills daily,

“Her legendary dreams,

“Unravelled it seems,

“When her skirt did the same at the Ceili [a traditional Irish dance].”

Festival organiser Una McAlinden said numbers at the event were up from last year.

She said the weekend was an opportunity for people to celebrate their Celtic ancestry.

“It’s a sense of belonging and connection. There’s the chance for like-minded people to gather. There’s a deep feeling of connection, and a sense of community I guess,” she said.

“It’s surprising how many people come out of the woodwork as being Celts. People you don’t even know.

“I think it brings it out in people and reminds them and connects them to their culture.”

There was also the chance for people not familiar with the traditional Scottish cuisine of haggis and blood sausage to give it a try.

Workshops in traditional music, dancing, storytelling and arts and craft were offered across the weekend.










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