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X marks the party in Westport

Project X Westport causes concern

Internet campaign targets music festival

Áine Ryan

PROJECT X Westport is one party that may not receive a rousing warm welcome to the award-winning tourism haven.
The Mayo News can reveal that almost 2,000 young revellers are set to descend on the town on the night of Friday, July 27 next, around the same time as the Saw Doctors kick off the annual on-street Westport Music Festival.
That is according to a Facebook invitation to a public event called ‘Project X Westport’. The Project X phenomenon sees hordes of people unexpectedly turn up at parties after word spreads about the events virally. The concept is based on the recently-released film of the same name, which follows three friends who plan to become popular by having a party, but the party seriously escalates out of control.
The Project X Westport invitation specifies the Saw Doctors gig, which is already expected to attract thousands of fans and will be held at the open-air venue on the Mall. The invitation, which was sent to 3,078 Facebook members, says: “Saw Doctors playing the street festival at the same time so the craic will be had. Drinking on the streets is also permitted during the night so it’s a guaranteed piss up!”
It also states, as per its usual protocol, that the venue for the Project X party will be announced on the day. As The Mayo News went to press last night, 1,852 respondents had confirmed they would attend, with 155 ‘maybes’.
A Project X party at a private house in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, ten days ago went off without any trouble and no arrests, despite the fact that nearly 1,000 people turned up. Reportedly, one onlooker said there was a lot of disruption and noise from cars but a large Garda presence deflected any potential trouble.
When contacted by The Mayo News yesterday a Garda spokesperson confirmed they were aware of the Westport party plan.
“We are aware of the planned Project X party and are monitoring the situation,” the spokesman said. He declined to comment any further.
Mr Dick Bourke, the organiser of the Westport Music Festival, said he believed the venue for the party may be in the vicinity of The Greenway but he said that there was much speculation about this.
“Naturally, we are concerned about this party, particularly since we don’t know much about it or the identity of the group involved. We heard the one in Cavan went off without trouble. Since we already expect a large crowd for The Sawdoctors, we have no choice but to increase security and to work closely with the Gardaí, as we always do. We normally employ private-security personnel, as well as our volunteer stewards and the Order of Malta,” Mr Bourke said yesterday.
He said his priority was to ensure that both visitors and locals enjoyed the annual festival and that residents were not disrupted by the festivities.
Chairman of Destination Westport, Darren Madden, said: “I have concerns about the anonymity of the people organising this party. My knowledge of Project X parties isn’t great but naturally after all the recent wonderful publicity we got – through The Irish Times Best Place to Live in Ireland and then last week through the Ray D’Arcy show – we are a little concerned at such a large number of people arriving without any organisation.”
He continued: “It is already a very busy weekend. It is the height of the tourism season, the music festival is on and it is Reek Sunday weekend. So we are not only busy in the town but the traffic through Westport is also very heavy.”
Darren Madden said the nub of the concern was that none of the authorities knew where this party would be held. It could be held at the Quay, in Islandeady or in Kilmeena, for all anyone knows, he said.
“When you look at the amount of plans that had to be made to for the recent festival in Westport House, you can put this in perspective. If someone can bring 2,000 people together without any plans, it is a cause for concern for both residents and business people,” he added.
Mr Madden also observed that if the Project X event does go ahead he hopes that it goes ahead without a hitch and that all involved arrive and get home safely.

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