Chairman changes his tune on Lady of the Lake

Published: 6 Sep 2012 13:000 comments

HE may have come under fire over the summer for his perceived lack of support towards Irvinestown's Lady of the Lake Festival, but it seemed Fermanagh District Council Chairman, Thomas O'Reilly had changed his tune at Monday night's Monthly meeting.

Thomas O'Reilly.

Festival organiser, Joe Mahon told The Impartial Reporter in July he had been furious when Mr O'Reilly failed to turn up to the launch of the Irvinestown event this year.

He was further angered when Mr O'Reilly told him he didn't know anybody from his constituency area, in Erne East, who attended the community festival.

At the time Mr Mahon told this newspaper that he felt more should be done to support Lady of the Lake and other smaller events in the County.

The bust up resulted in a meeting between Senior Council staff and festival Committee members last month.

But on Monday night in the Chamber, Mr O'Reilly was singing the festival's praises, along with the rest of the highly successful community events throughout the summer months.

His comments were prompted when the topic of the first International Beckett Festival was mentioned by DUP Councillor, Bert Johnson.

"We had a tremendous summer of festivals throughout the length and breadth of the County," Mr O'Reilly said, "The likes of the Beckett Festival, Enniskillen 100 and the Lady of the Lake all bring tremendous notoriety to the County and bring much needed revenue to businesses."

Mr O'Reilly said such events prove that Fermanagh knows how to put on a good show.

"It also shows a great ability and a proven track record to run very successful festivals both small and large," he said, "From our work through Destination Fermanagh there is a growing understanding of what it takes to put festivals on here that will attract large scale funding, be able to attract TV coverage and attract large numbers of tourists to the County to help it's economy. I hope through our work with Destination Fermanagh that we will grow other events that will be equally as successful as those others have been."

Councillors agreed to write in particular to the organisers of the Beckett Festival and Erne Vintage Rally on a job well done.

SDLP Councillor, Frank Britton said the Beckett Festival had been a "magnificent weekend" for Enniskillen, the County and visitors from further afield.

"I don't think Enniskillen or the entire County has seen the likes of this celebration before," he said, "It was something that brought a tremendous amount of life to the town and raised the cultural profile of the County."

Ulster Unionist, Raymond Farrell suggested the Northern Ireland Tourist Board should explore other avenues to offer support to local festival events.

"I would encourage them to reflect on some of the festivals in relation to funding," he said, "There are some specific aspects, if micro-analysed, that could be supported in other ways through the Tourist Board."

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