This August sees the inaugural “French Mayo” Festival take place in Ballina, Co. Mayo. Billed as “A Taste of France along the Wild Atlantic Way”, the two-day festival takes place on August 26th-27th 2016, and aims to build on the unique historical connection enjoyed by Mayo with France, which dates from the landing of General Humbert in Kilcummin, near Killala, in 1798.
The French Mayo Festival, which is being organised by Ballina Chamber, will build on Ballina’s reputation for arts and culture, showcasing all that is good about both regions through music, food and pageantry. Highlights of the weekend will include a French-themed pageant in the historic Military Quarter on Friday 26th August, the Ballina Food Fleadh on Saturday 27th August with a distinct French flavour, a traditional Irish music “Session Trail” taking place in the town centre on Saturday afternoon and a big live gig on Saturday night, featuring iconic rockers The Stunning, Irish folk-rock band Kíla and long-time performer of the French chanson, Jeannette Byrne.
The Military Quarter in Ballina will be at the heart of the festivities, and for the very first time, all French Mayo events in the Barracks are set to take place under cover in what will be a really unique outdoor space in the West of Ireland. The cover is in the process of being fitted to the Barracks by Mayo County Council and is expected to be a game-changer for events in Ballina.
Saturday afternoon will see the much-loved Food Fleadh Ballina showcasing the best of Mayo food, with a host of restaurants and artisan producers around the county working together to create a spectacular French-themed food event. Live music will accompany the event. The Food Fleadh is open to all food businesses in Co. Mayo and there are a limited number of places still available.
The Food Fleadh will be complimented by a live “Irish Trad Session Trail” taking place in a number of venues in the town centre on the afternoon of Saturday 27th August, where musicians and performers from all around the county and beyond are set to put on a trad extravaganza with music, dance, storytelling and sean-nós.
The French Mayo Festival is supported by Failte Ireland, Mayo County Council and the French Embassy. In time, it is the ambition of the committee to make this a large-scale signature event along the Wild Atlantic Way that will attract significant visitor numbers and interest from overseas, particularly France.
French Mayo Committee Chairman and Ballina Chamber PRO Brian Hopkins said: “We believe that working together as a community and a county, we have the talent and ability in Mayo to stage a top-class, professionally-run festival that will rival any large-scale event in the capital. This year we are planning to establish French Mayo as a must-see for our European visitors planning to travel the Wild Atlantic Way in 2017.”
Anne-Marie Flynn, Marketing Manager at MayoNorth.ie said: “We are delighted to see the development of another strong event in the Mayo North Festivals calendar – it can only help in the quest to attract more visitors to this beautiful region. In particular we are delighted to be strengthening our connection with France, by working with the French Mayo committee and the various groups and stakeholders from throughout the county that are aiming to make this ambitious event a huge success.”
French Mayo Festival Programme of Events
Friday August 26th:
6.30pm: Laying of wreaths at the “Maid of Erin” monument on Humbert Street and procession to the Military Quarter
7.30pm: French-themed Pageant Spectacular with music and theatre performances in Ballina Military Quarter featuring the Gilmartin School of Music and the Riverside Theatre Group
Saturday August 27th:
11am – 5pm: Food Fleadh Ballina Market in the Military Barracks showcasing the very best of Co. Mayo’s food and drink offering. Includes live cookery demos and children’s cookery classes.
12pm – 6pm: French Mayo Session Trail – a day of traditional music in a number of venues in Ballina Town Centre. All trad music groups and individuals are welcome to come along and join in the fun!
8pm – late: Live Music on stage in Ballina Military Barracks with The Stunning, Kila and a host of local acts! Tickets €22.50 on sale now from Tickets.ie!
Associated Events week commencing 22nd August
Jackie Clarke Collection (Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm): Exhibition: 1798 timeline of events in the ‘Seomra’ in the Community Garden
Ballina Arts Centre: French Film Festival (programme TBC)