Rafts, boats and floats at Venice of Ireland festival

Leanne Hunt, Stacie and Kerrie Dunne, and Rachel Daly at the Picnic in the Park Monasterevin Venice of Ireland Festival 2013. See more photos next week.
Monasterevin basked in sunshine last weekend as Venice truly came to the Kildare town for its annual festival.

Monasterevin basked in sunshine last weekend as Venice truly came to the Kildare town for its annual festival.

The organisers were thrilled as there were huge turnouts for all the events on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13.

The water ways were fully utilised but there was no sign of any traditional gondolas for the recycled boat race on Saturday. There were crafts made from materials of every description - skateboards, old pieces of wood, water bottles - you name it. The creative skills of the participants were exceptional with 20 entries taking part.

“We started out on Saturday with the recycled boat race. We had two heats and then the final. We had a lot of people at that and then we had the Picnic in the Park sponsored by McConville’s Supervalu and we had a huge turnout. Captain Ho Ho entertained the children and Ger the DJ. We had The Royal Irish Artillery aka Lord Edwards Own historical re-enactment group and they were firing their canon every half hour - that went down really well. They started the boat race. Supervalu were there with drinks and snacks for the kids.” explained Barry Walsh from the Venice of Ireland Festival Committee.

The Fun Run took place on Sunday with prizes for the first male, and female home, as well as the overall best family. The Monasterevin Historical Society organised an exhibition and there was also storytelling for children.

“We were delighted. We were a bit worried because there were so many events going on last weekend but a lot of people went to the other events and then came back to our festival. We heard back that they were delighted, they felt it was community focused and very enjoyable,” added Barry.

There was also canoe lessons available on Saturday to gauge interest in setting up a club in the town.

In the aftermath of this year’s event, the committee are looking into whether they might run the festival in a different format with events taking place through out the year rather than on one single week or weekend.

As is the same in every town, it is hard to get volunteers as people have less time to offer, and the Venice of Ireland Festival experienced those same problems.

However, they overcame manpower and resources obstacles with a dedicated core group of members to create a weekend to remember in Monasterevin.

- Niamh O’Donoghue