Three French re-enactors at 'The March of the Pikemen' in Castlebar. PHOTO: ALISON LAREDO

New festival off to a flying start in Mayo county town

The Castlebar 1798 Festival of Music and History has got off to a flying start.

There was a big turnout for the 'March of the Pikemen' through the town yesterday evening.

The parade, led by an Army colour party and Castlebar Concert Band, was a colourful affair and attracted a large attendance.

A surprise, late addition to the ranks of pikemen was Westport TD and former minister Michael Ring.

"I've come to save Castlebar," he joked, as he joined the parade at Thomas Street, pike in hand.

The march proceeded through Rush Street, Bridge Street, Main Street and Ellison Street before assembling at the 1798 Memorial on the Mall.

Ronan Moran, head of the festival organising committee, thanked everybody who played a role in putting the event in place on the 225th anniversary of the 'Races of Castlebar' during the 1798 Rebellion.

He also paid tribute to those who made a financial contribution to cover the significant running and insurance costs.

Castlebar Concert Band performed 'Amhrán Na bhFianna' to conclude official proceedings.

Members of the public then gathered at nearby Christ Church for a talk, entitled 'The 1798 Letters of Jane Fraser', by local historian, Dr. Michael O'Connor.

Local hostelry, Tolsters, Spencer Street, hosted an 'end of battle' reception after the talk concluded.

The festival resumed today at 10 a.m with a Historical Walking Tour, starting from New Antrim Street.

A family fun day on the Mall from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

At 11 a.m., there is a talk by Dr. Michael M O’Connor and Caroline O’Connor on Mayo County Prison and the 1798 Rebellion

There's a performance by Castlebar Town Band Performance at 12 noon.

At 12.30 p.m., the trial by Drumhead Court Martial of Rebel Captain Timlin will be re-enacted.

Mid West Radio will broadcast from the Mall between 1.30 and 5 p.m.

The live outdoor concert between 2 and 7 p.m. will feature Tomas Langan, Chris Cresham, Julianne Hennelly, Niall McCabe, Ultan Conlon and Paddy Cullivan.

Daniel O’Donnell plays the TF Royal Theatre tonight and there is live music and events in the local pubs.

Everybody is welcome.