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Take me To The Island

Going Out

ON THE LINE-UP Rónán Ó Snodaigh is among the many musicians heading to Achill Island for the May Bank Holiday festival, To The Island.

Achill’s new festival is a celebration of music, comedy, heritage and more

Anton McNulty

A FESTIVAL like nothing Achill has never seen before. That is how the the island’s latest festival which takes place over the May Bank Holiday Weekend is being described.
To The Island is billed as a new and exciting festival that will combine a focus on music, history, comedy and the environment at various locations on Achill Island over the three days of the May Bank Holiday.
At the heart of the festival is a series of coach tours to scenic locations on the island, with stop-offs at historic sites and commentary from a local historian. There will also be stops at local venues with music and comedy at each location and lunch provided.
One of the organisers of the festival is Achill native Graham Sweeney, who says that the festival will showcase all the island has to offer from a natural, historic and entertainment point of view.
“What people can expect is a day packed with entertainment from the moment they step on the bus at 11.30 in the morning until we finish up at half two in the morning. It will be something Achill has never experienced before,” he told The Mayo News.

Achill delight
The 26-year-old musician, who has been playing and working at festivals in Ireland and Europe for the last five years, explained that he always wanted to organise a music festival on Achill.
“I always wanted to show Achill off to other people and show what a great place it is to come to. People always complain about nothing happening in the west of Ireland, but instead of complaining we have to make it happen.
“I have never come across anything like this before, and I think it is the first time this type of concept has taken place. I felt there was no point having an event in one site, so putting people on a coach and bringing them from place to place will allow them to see the delights of Achill as well as listen to good music and have a good time,” he said.
The coach tour of the island will take place over on Saturday and Sunday, starting off at Gielty’s Bar in Dooagh at 11.30am each morning and stopping off at four venues along the way, as well as historical venues. Graham explained that the two tours will visit different places on the two days, so people can have a different experience on each day. There will also be a shuttle bus for people who want to finish early.
Dinner and lunch will also be provided and late-night entertainment will take place in Gielty’s with electronic music and DJ’s from Berlin on the set.
The music over the three days of the festival will vary from folk and trad to electric, with a range of acts, including Rónán Ó Snodaigh, Laoise Kelly, Siar, Caoi de Barra (vocalist and drummer with Wyvern Lingo), Kuniker, Cinema, The Willow Jacks and Mr Whippy. Comedians will include Grace Mulvey, Emily O’Callaghan, Emily Ashmore and Danay Kidane. ‘Outings’ include surfing, nature walks and an ecology workshop.

Annual ambitions
Tickets for the coach tours are limited, and are selling fast. Graham advises people to book early to avoid disappointment.
“Since we announced the festival, we have had a lot of interest from people who want to experience it because nothing like it has been done before. We have a lot of interest from all over Ireland as well as the UK, so we expect over 250 people to attend each night.
“We have had great support from the local businesses, and I have to thank Alan Gielty for all his support. A lot of work has gone into it, and we are hoping it will be an annual event … we just have to get over this year first.”
For more information, visit the festival website, www.totheislandfestival.com or check out their Facebook and Instagram accounts.