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Carnivals, Marquees and Festivals (253 listed and counting)

The photo at the left is one from the Geesala Festival marquee in July 1982 (click on the photo to enlarge).

By the late 1950's Carnivals were a staple of life, especially in rural Ireland. Every parish had a carnival! The carnival (later to be known more as festivals) would run for usually about two weeks anytime between April and September. Early carnivals would provide a wide variety of entertainment over the span of the two weeks and were usually accompanied by amusements which would travel from town to town (much like the circus) and set up show in the next field. The scheduled events would always include at least 3-4 dances (featuring top orchestras of the day), 2-3 Ceili nights (this would often include waltz competitions), a fancy dress ball, a play or two put on by the local drama society, and maybe even a movie or two.   

Once a mainstay of rural social life in Ireland, the marquees (like the ballrooms) have all but disappeared. In the 60's and 70's most marquees were set up in fields for a couple of weeks by local organizations, like the G.A.A. club, to help raise funds for their annual operations, or to build a new clubhouse, or even fund a trip to play teams in the States. They were generally held in summer to take advantage of the "good" weather. Rarely ever dry, they usually consisted of a tent, some chairs, and a very wobbly stage (plywood sheets on empty beer kegs).

For bands, marquees were both a blessing and a curse. Usually they were well attended, being the single most important social "event" of the year for locals. In fact, the opening and closing night of a festival were usually guaranteed a packed house. On the other hand, facilities were extremely limited and in many cases, non existent. Bands had to change clothes in their vans, or behind the stage, or if they were lucky, a local house nearby where tea was served. Of course, if it was raining, the marquee was a nightmare. Click here or on the cartoon at right from the 1981 Festival of Avondale programme to get a better idea of the local view of marquee dancing!

Electrical power was usually dicey at best, and rarely strong enough to power a band's P.A., lighting rigs, and other gear. Stages were usually constructed of makeshift wooden platforms often teetering on empty beer kegs. The tent robbed the band's sound of all clarity and for miles around, all you could hear was the thud thud thud of the bass. It was like playing into a wet rag, literally. 

Still, many musicians consider them part of the "good old days," before the disco lights, before the hotel extensions and supper dances. A time when the evening's entertainment depended on a band's ability to keep the audience up and dancing, or on that rare occasion, when whatever the band was doing was so good, people just stood and watched!

To show just how diverse the events scheduled at festivals could be, here's the full page schedule of events from the 1981 Festival of Avondale, Rathdrum. Enjoy the memories!

 

Marquee, Carnival and Festival County Status
Ballygally Carnival Antrim Ran in September in the late 1960's
Ballymoney Antrim  
Dunloy Antrim  
Glenravel Festival Antrim Ran in the late 1960's
Grey Abbey Antrim  
Old Lama's Fair, Ballycastle Antrim Active in mid 70's
Toomebridge Carnival, Toomebridge Antrim Ran in May in the early 70's
Total Number of venues in County 7  
Ardaragh Armagh Unknown
Ballyargan Armagh
Drumcairn Carnival Armagh Ran in the early 70's
Ford's Cross Carnival Armagh Ran in August in the late 1960's
Market Hill, Armagh Armagh
Shelagh Carnival, Crossmaglen Armagh Ran in the early 70's
Total Number of venues in County 6  
Bagenalstown Carnival Carlow
Borris Festival Carlow Ran in the early 1970's
Garyhill Carnival, Carlow Carlow Ran in the late sixties in April
Hackettstown Carnival, Hackettstown Carlow  
Rathvilly Carlow  
Total Number of venues in County 5  
Arva Carnival Cavan Ran in the early 70's
Ballyconnell Carnival Cavan Ran in the late 1960's
Ballyhaise Festival Cavan Ran in the early 70's
Bawnboy Carnival Cavan Ran in the early 70's
Belturbet Carnival Cavan Ran in September in the late 1960's
Butlersbridge Carnival Cavan Ran in May and June in 1971
Cavan Carnival, Cavan Cavan Started in 1968, ran for 5 weeks in July & August
Dowra Cavan  
Glangevlin Cavan  
Kilnaleck Carnival Cavan Ran in the late 1960's
Kingscourt Cavan  
Laragh Carnival Cavan Ran in September in the late 1960's
Lavey Carnival Cavan Ran in June in the late 1960's
Milltown Festival  Cavan Ran in the early 70's
Mountain Lodge Carnival Cavan Ran in summer in the early 60's
Stradone Carnival Cavan Ran in late 1960's, community centre on site - E.McEntee
Swanlinbar Carnival, Swanlinbar Cavan Held July 12-August 5th in 1974
Virginia Carnival Cavan Ran in the early 70's
Total Number of venues in County 18  
Barefield Carnival Clare Ran in the early 70's
Cooraclare Clare  
Corofin Carnival Clare Ran in the early 70's
Doonbeg Carnival Clare  
Ennistymon Carnival Clare Ran in the early 70's
Kilkishen Carnival, Kilkishen Clare
Killaloe Carnival, Killaloe Clare  
Kilmihill Carnival Clare Ran in the early 70's
Kilrush Clare
Lissycasey Carnival Clare Ran in the early 70's
Miltown Malbay Marquee Clare Ran in the mid 70's
Newmarket-on-Fergus Clare  
Whitegate Carnival Clare
Total Number of venues in County 13  
Ardgroom Festival Cork Unknown
Buttevant Cork  
Charleville Cheese Festival Cork  
Clondrohid Cork  
Freemount Cork  
Glenbower Festival, Killeagh Cork Early 70's
Inchigeela Festival, Inchigeela Cork Ran In late 70's
Kildorrery GAA Mid Summer Festival Cork Active
Kilworth Cork  
Kinsale Regatta, Kinsale* Cork  
Lepp Festival Cork  
Millstreet Festival Cork  
Rosscarbery Carnival Cork Ran in the mid 1970's
Sheep Shearing Festival, Millstreet Cork  
Skibbereen Festival Cork  
Total Number of venues in County 15  
Loup Carnival Derry Ran in September in the late 1960's
Maghera Carnival Derry Ran in August in the late 1960's
Park Derry  
Total Number of venues in County 3  
Ballyshannon Harvest Fair Festival Donegal Ran in September in late 1970's
Bridge End Carnival Donegal  
Convoy Carnival Donegal Ran in July in late 60's
Dongal Town Carnival Donegal Ran late 1940's early 1950's
Drumkeen Carnival Donegal Ran in May in the early 70's
Dungloe Carnival Donegal Ran in August in late 1970's
Glenswilly Carnival Donegal Ran in the late 1960's
Kilcar Festival Donegal Ran in August in late 1970's
Letterkenny Civic Week, Letterkenny Donegal Held in September in 1950's
Mary From Dungloe Festival, Glenties* Donegal  
Moville Carnival Donegal Ran in July in late 60's
Newtowncunningham Donegal
Total Number of venues in County 12  
Ballinahinch Down
Ballycran Down  
Dromara Down
Dromore Down  
Stradone Carnival Down Ran in late 1960's, community centre on site - E.McEntee
Strangford Carnival Down
Total Number of venues in County 6  
Garristown Carnival Dublin Held in July in late 60's
Swords Festival Dublin
Total Number of venues in County 2  
Derrylin Fermanagh
Total Number of venues in County 1  
Ballinasloe Big Band Carnival, Ballinasloe Galway Ran in mid 1970's No Longer Running
Ballygar Carnival Galway (Joseph Larkin tells us it is going strong since 1945)
Bealadangan Galway  
Carraroe Galway  
Clifden Carnival Galway  
Corofin Galway
Craughwell Carnival Galway
Derrydonnell Carnival Galway Ran in the late 1960's
Glenamaddy Carnival Galway Ran in August in 1970
Headford Carnival, Headford Galway Ran in August in mid 70's
Kilcrickle Carnival, Loughrea Galway
Letterfrack Carnival Galway Ran in the early to mid 1970's
Menlough Carnival Galway Ran in the late 1960's
Milltown Carnival Galway Ran in April from mid 60's to late 1970's
Mountbellew Agricultural Show Carnival Galway Ran in early to mid 1970's
Moylough Galway
Oughterard Galway  
Portumna Carnival Galway Ran in the early 1970's
Roundstone Big Band Carnival Galway Ran in early to mid 70's
Tuam, Galway  
Turloughmore Carnival Galway Ran in the early 1970's in Spring
Total Number of venues in County 21  
Ballybunion Bachelor Festival Kerry  
Finuge GAA Carnival Kerry Ran in the 70's and early 80's
Kenmare Carnival, Kenmare Kerry Ran in August in mid 70's
Rose of Tralee Festival Kerry
Scartaglin Carnival, Scartaglin Kerry Ran in August in mid 70's
Total Number of venues in County 5  
Cloncurry Hot Springs Festival, Cloncurry Kildare
Kilcock Festival, Kilcock  Kildare  
Leixlip Festival Kildare Ran in the late 1960's
Naas Carnival, Naas Kildare Ran in June in late 60's
Rathangan Carnival Kildare Ran in the late 1960's
Robertstown Carnival Kildare Ran in the late 1960's
Total Number of venues in County 6  
Bennettsbridge Festival Kilkenny Gone
Callan Kilkenny  
Deenside Festival, Castlecomer Kilkenny Ran in the mid 70's in July
Fox and Goose Carnival, Goresbridge Kilkenny Ran in the late sixties in April
Freshford Carnival, Freshford Kilkenny  
Piltown Carnival Kilkenny Ran in May in the early 70's
Thomastown Kilkenny  
Urlingford Kilkenny  
Total Number of venues in County 8  
Durrow Carnival Laois Ran in July in late 60's to mid 70's
Mountmellick Laois  
Rathdowney Carnival Laois Ran in late 60's - our thanks to Padraig Barry
Stradbally Steam Rally Carnival Laois Ran in the late 1960's and 70's our thanks to Padraig Barry
Timahoe Carnival Laois Ran in late 60's - our thanks to Padraig Barry
Total Number of venues in County 5  
Ballinamore Carnival, Ballinamore Leitrim  
Dromahair Leitrim  
Dromod Carnival Leitrim Ran in the early 70's
Festival of the Shannon, Carrick On Shannon Leitrim Ran in July in mid 1960's
Manorhamilton Mid Summer Carnival Leitrim Ran in the mid to late 1960's
Wild Rose Festival, Manorhamilton Leitrim Ran in August in late 1970's
Woodbrook Festival, Carrick-On-Shannon Leitrim May to June, mid 1960's
Total Number of venues in County 7  
Croom Festival Limerick  
Dromcollogher Festival Limerick Ran in late 70's
Kilfinane Carnival, Co. Limerick Limerick Ran in August-Sept late 1960's
Pallaskenry Carnival, Pallaskenry Limerick  
Shannon House Limerick  
Sixmilebridge Limerick  
Total Number of venues in County 6  
Ballinalee Carnival Longford  
Colmcille Dancing Festival Longford Ran in summer in mid 70's
Drumlish Carnival, Drumlish Longford
Lanesboro Carnival Longford Ran in September in the late 1960's
Longford Carnival, Longford Longford  
Longford Slashers Carnival, Longford Longford Ran in summer in mid 70's
Total Number of venues in County 6  
Blackrock Louth  
Total Number of venues in County 1  
Ardnaree Festival, Ardnaree Mayo Ran in September in late 1970's
Balla Hyper Festival, Balla Mayo Ran in August in late 1970's
Ballina Salmon Festival, Ballina Mayo Ran in mid to late 1970's
Ballintubber Harvest Festival, Ballintubber Mayo Held in Sept mid 70's to early 80's
Ballycastler/Belderrig Festival Mayo Held in June in the late 1970's
Bangor Erris Angling Festival Mayo Ran in July in late 1970's
Belmullet Festival Week Mayo Ran in late August-Sept in late 1970's
Belmullet GAA Carnival Mayo Held in April late 1970's
Charlestown Holiday Festival Mayo Held in August in late 1970's
Cross-Cong-Neale GAA Festival Mayo Held in April in early 1970's
Geesala Festival Mayo  
Killala Easter Carnival Mayo Ran in April in late 1970's
Killala Summer Festival Mayo  
Kilmaine Festival Mayo Ran in June in late 1970's
Nephin Festival, Crossmolina Mayo Ran in 70's and 80's
St. Brendan's Festival, Aughleam Mayo Ran in August in late 70's
Swinford (GAA) Festival of Dancing, Swinford Mayo Ran in July-August in mid 1960's-late 70's
Tourmakeady G.A.A. Festival Mayo  
Westport Cailin Deas Festival Mayo  
Total Number of venues in County 19  
Ashbourne Festival Meath Unknown
Ballivor Festival Meath  
Dunshaughlin Festival Meath  
Gormanstown Carnival, Gormanstown**** Meath  
Moynalty Carnival Meath Our thanks to James Sheridan, ran in the early 60's
Summerhill Festival Meath  
Trim Festival (Town Hall) Meath  
Total Number of venues in County 7  
Annyalla Carnival, Castleblaney Monaghan  
Aughnamullen Carnival, Aughnamullen Monaghan  
Ballybay Carnival, Ballybay Monaghan  
Castlepollard Carnival Monaghan Ran during summer in the early 1960's
Clontibret Carnival Monaghan  
Donagh Carnival Monaghan  
Embassy Club, Castleblaney Monaghan Made way for the Glencarn Hotel - P Clerkin) Still dancing
Latton Carnival, Latton Monaghan  
Oram Carnival, Oram  Monaghan  
Rockcorry Monaghan  
Scotstown Carnival, Scotstown Monaghan Ran in August in the late 1960's
Tyholland Carnival, Tyholland Monaghan Held in late May, early June in early 1970's
Total Number of venues in County 12  
Ballycumber Offaly Ran in the late 1960's
Banagher Annual Carnival Offaly Ran in the early to mid 1970's
Birr Vintage Week Carnival Offaly Ran in August-September in the late 1960's
Borris-On-Ossary Offaly  
Clareen Offaly Ran in the late 1960's
Cloghan Offaly  
Daingean Carnival Offaly Ran in the late 1960's
Edenderry Carnival Offaly Ran in the early 70's in May
Ferbane Carnival Offaly  
Kileagh Carnival Offaly Ran in the late 1960's
Shinrone Carnival Offaly Ran May to June in 1960's
Tullamore Harriers Carnival Offaly Ran in the late 1960's
Total Number of venues in County 12  
Athleague Carnival Roscommon Ran in May in the early 70's
Ballaghaderreen Community Festival Roscommon Ran in July in late 1970's
Ballyleague Roscommon  
Castlerea Park Festival, Castlerea Roscommon Ran in the mid to late 1960's
Dysart Parochial Carnival Roscommon Ran in early to mid 1970's
Frenchpark Roscommon  
Rockingham Carnival (near Boyle) Roscommon Ran in August in the late 1960's
Strokestown Roscommon  
Tully Carnival, Roscommon Roscommon Ran in July in the early 70's
Total Number of venues in County 9  
Ballinafad Easter Carnival, Ballinafad Sligo Early Spring festival in the late 1960's
Ballintogher Parochial Carnival Sligo Ran in July in the early 1960's - No Longer Running
Ballymote Carnival, Ballymote Sligo Ran in July in mid 1960's
Bunninadden Annual Carnival, Bunninadden Sligo Ran in June, started in 1964
Castlebaldwin Festival Sligo Ran in early 1980's
Cloonaool Marquee Festival Sligo Ran in May in mid to late 60's
Collooney Carnival of Dancing Sligo Ran in July in early 1960's - no longer running
Corballa Dancing Festival, Corballa Sligo Ran in May in 1960's
Culleens Carnival, Culleens^ Sligo Ran in the early 1980's
Dromore West Carnival Sligo  
Easkey Annual Festival, Seafield Hotel Sligo Ran in August in late 1970's
Lackagh Carnival, Lackagh Sligo Ran in mid May late 1960's
Skreen Carnival, Skreen Sligo Ran in August in late 1970's
Total Number of venues in County 13  
Ballypatrick Marquee Tipperary Ran in 1970's
Borrisokane Festival Tipperary  
Kilfeakle Carnival, Kilfeakle Tipperary  
Templemore Festival Tipperary Gone
Total Number of venues in County 4  
Ballygawley Carnival Tyrone Started in 1956, ran in early 60's
Carrickmore Tyrone  
Dunamanagh Tyrone  
Eskra Carnival, Eskra Tyrone Ran in summer in mid 70's
Sixmilecross Carnival Tyrone Ran in August in the late 1960's
Total Number of venues in County 5  
Ardmore Waterford Unknown
Dungarvan Waterford  
Total Number of venues in County 2  
Ballymore Carnival, Ballymore**** Westmeath  
Carrickmacross Carnival Westmeath  
Castlepollard Carnival**** Westmeath  
Glasson Carnival Westmeath Ran in summer in mid 70's
Killare Carnival, Killare**** Westmeath  
Mullingar Carnival, Mullingar**** Westmeath  
Total Number of venues in County 6  
Arthurstown Wexford Thanks to Edward Doherty
Castlebridge Wexford  
Courtown Harbour Wexford  
Enniscorthy Wexford  
Ferns Carnival, Ferns Wexford  
Total Number of venues in County 5  
Baltinglass Wicklow  
Brittas Bay Wicklow  
Dunlavin Carnival Wicklow Ran in May in the early 70's
Festival of Avondale, Rathdrum Wicklow  
Kiltegan Carnival, Kiltegan Wicklow  
Tinahely Wicklow  
Total Number of venues in County

6

 

 


2002-2017 GMS Productions

In Loving Memory of Grant Gallagher: Sept. 21, 1990 - Nov. 18, 2006