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CULTURE Loving Castlebar Live


IN RHYTHM Julianne Hennelly and Aidan Bolger performing during Castlebar Live.

Castlebar Live took place on Saturday, September 19. Organised by a number of talented musicians from Castlebar, it showcased the musical talent that exists within the town. Artist and singer Julianne Hennelly from Breaffy took part, not only performing but also creating the stage’s colourful backdrop in Hoban’s Car Park. Here, she looks at event – and the town – with pride.  

Julianne Hennelly

Castlebar town has got it all. The weekend was an example of that. I witnessed the power and joy that comes when people form a true community by sharing their ideas, skills, experiences, opportunities, amenities and most importantly their time to invest in their town, souls and new adventures.
Community is when people come together to help each other out, listen to each other and encourage each other to recognise their own unique role in society, because we all have one….
Culture night gave the public a chance to sample a variety of creative workshops around town, from The Linenhall to the Mayo Art Squad, in a relaxed, fun manner while music played in the background. Children and parents were welcome to join in, which they did towards the end of the night, when inhibitions were gone (no drink involved).
Saturday, September 19, was called Castlebar Live. I was intrigued by the title … which has many interpretations. Live: raw performance of the arts, no manufactured recordings, real and present. Live: to be present on this Earth, as we so call it, to breath, to Be, to discover our true selves, explore this earth we have been given. My personal interpretations, but notice the word present, because it’s the greatest gift we have.
The latter, about exploring the earth, is a reassuring consolation for all those who have left this town to venture other lands. I live in hope that they may come back some day, with a new appreciation of where they come from while having many new experiences under their belt to teach us all.
Meanwhile, I have met visitors who came to this town and have never left. They were seduced by the charm of Castlebar town, the crazy wonderful characters, the authentic country life, simplicity of days, the services available for all in need.
Every person I have met, from homeless people to the so-called rich, express a desire for music, a break from technology and the pressures of time, to be the best they can be, live in the moment. The boom is over, greed is over; we are all humbled by the mere need to survive and thrive, in whatever way suits ourselves, and I think we have all come to the realisation that it is not money that is important, but love and support.
Back to the open air music event in Hoban’s Car Park. Local musicians and artists under the wing of Michael Baynes got together to bring colour and music to the town. It began  at 3pm with the Jam Shugar cottage with its Hansel and Gretel feel, beautifully constructed by the talented Aidan Bolger, who provided instruments and an opportunity for the public to come and play.
The big stage I kicked off at 6pm, attracting young families, passers by and friends. The stage and grounds had an Electric Picnic feel, with bunting provided by Love Castlebar and flags and decor by Mayo Art Squad. As the sun slept the colourful disco lights shone.
Our local Thin Lizzy tribute band, Skinny Liz opened the night. Wow, Phillo would be proud; they had every note down to a tee. They were followed by Jam Shugar’s revival of the ’60s and ’70s to ‘Standing in the Way of Control’ cover by gay rights activists, The Gossip [and] the 4 & 9’s, who folked up the stage with a mix of old school country and trad.
Everyday Solution had all the teenage girls smitten with their renditions and great choices of contemporary tunes. Ryo & Damo rocked out their old school classics. The up and coming, New Social, left us with no doubts as to why their success has been so great this last year. Local rock band Receptor got the crowd heaving with their covers of chart toppers, such as the Killers and Pearl Jam.
The children danced like the adults wanted to and performers gave it socks, the energy was invigorating and the appreciation by everyone there was immense. The weather was a blessing, not a drop of rain until 2am.
This brings me to the next exciting news. Alas, we are learning to prepare and facilitate our temperamental, entertaining and subject of most Irish people’s conversation, the Irish weather. How joyous was I and many, many others to [learn about] the future plans for our local barracks’ grounds, the future Centre of Excellence [which will] provide a big umbrella in the centre of town for markets, concerts, workshops and many more events that could take place in Castlebar … is your imagination running wild?!
Here’s to Castlebar, it’s been downtrodden, almost abandoned, but we’ve had enough, we’re back on the map … the capital of Mayo. May I quote our ever-colourful soul man and host of Castlebar Live, Michael Oliver Sheridan, ‘love and respect’.