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Summer in Ireland means two things. The first is that there will be more rain during this season than nearly any other (but I think I’ve written enough about the weather so we won’t focus on that right now); second is that there are a myriad of outdoor festivals to choose from all season long. Clearly the two don’t mix, but one thing I’ve learned about the Irish is that they don’t let a little rain stop them from enjoying their summer activities. If they did, they’d never leave their homes!

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Since I’ve moved here, we’ve had the Drogheda Arts Festival, the Samba Festival and last weekend the Prawn Festival. The latter used to be an annual event in the neighboring fishing village of Clogherhead, but due to the recession has been on hold for the last several years. Well this year it came back with gusto and three days chock full of events and activities. One of the main attractions was breaking the world record for most people buried up to their necks on the beach, a record previously held by the French with 324 people. The locals all came out with shovels in hand and smashed the world record with an astonishing 524 people! See official photos here. Other event activities included a golf classic, parade and live music.


I went to the festival on Saturday, as I’d heard that there would be a few dozen booths at the “Traders’ Market.” I had visions of prawns cooked in every which way: fried, steamed, scampi, with pasta, in a sandwich – maybe even some crazy “festival food” like prawn ice cream or giant prawn sticks. It was terribly disappointing to show up and see only two booths selling prawns and a handful of young guys walking around with coolers of prawn and crab cocktail. The rest of the booths featured items like hippie candles, jewelry, ice cream, makeup and dishes. While the prawns I had were fine (just a simple prawn cocktail with some vegetables) and brown crab quite good, I’d hoped to have a lot more options. But after consulting with my Clogherhead friend, I was told that the festival is not so much a food faire but a celebration of the town with entertainment and demonstrations and a little bit of food. With his explanation my disappointment soon faded I took in the rest of the festival offerings.

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The highlight of the festival for me was watching grown men fighting it out with bags of footballs while sitting on a very slippery log over water. Each man would slide out onto the log, situate himself about 3 feet away from his competitor and then start whacking the other with a football inside a netted bag until the other guy fell about 20 feet into the ocean below. This testosterone-fueled display of good, old-fashioned male prowess was completely and utterly entertaining for us to watch. I’m not sure what this says about me personally, but I quite enjoyed it! Nearby there was a diving demonstration for children and fishing boat tours. Down away from the harbor on the beach was a masters swim competition and a kiteboarding demo. I’d heard rumors of a greasy pole competition on the pier, but we didn’t see it ourselves. There was too much to take in and not enough time!

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Even more impressive is Clogherhead itself. The village, set against miles of gorgeous beaches and rugged coastline is simply breathtaking. The immaculately green hills are dotted with cows and bulls that graze against a million-dollar view of the ocean. There are adorable thatched-roof cottages that are hundreds of years old, and stunning natural rock formations along the water that have taken probably thousands of years to develop. The most important aspect of the Prawn Festival is that it brings attention to this sleepy seaside village, and that’s reason enough to hail the efforts of all involved in this year’s festivities. I look forward to next year’s event!