Now in its fourteenth year, the annual Scariff Harbour Festival is an open-air, street-based event showcasing the many attractions and amenities accessible from Scariff. Its aim is to promote the leisure and pleasure potential of Lough Derg, the inland waterways and the East Clare countryside both among local people and visitors from further afield. The four-day festival, which takes place over the August bank holiday weekend, offers a varied programme of activities, arts, music and entertainment inspired by the “lake” theme.In recent years Scariff Harbour, the festival’s focus, has been redeveloped and expanded by Waterways Ireland, a North/South implementation body set up under the Good Friday Agreement. Scariff now boasts a top-class marina facility for pleasure boats, anglers, sailing people and other water recreation enthusiasts. During the festival in 2006, the new Waterways Ireland regional office overlooking the harbour was officially opened by Minister Síle de Valera.
The festival seeks to highlight Scariff’s role as the “southern gateway” to the inland navigable waterways by forging a special relationship with corresponding towns in Northern Ireland to which Scariff is now linked through the waterways system and by promoting cross-border exchanges at the political, cultural and community levels. As it celebrates its fourteenth year, the festival continues to develop and to attract ever-growing numbers of people.The festival offers a range of activities, events and entertainment highlighting the many attractions of the area and catering to all ages and tastes.
Boat tours of the Scariff River and Lough Derg have proved perennially popular in previous years with a seemingly never-ending demand by the public to get a chance to experience the river and lake firsthand. This year sees a revamped Riverside Activity event with Get West providing a Mobile Mountain Bike Course, Archery Tag, Hoverball Archery, Water Walking Zorbs and Stand Up Paddle boarding. Angling displays and events, including a cross-border young anglers’ competition, highlight the angling potential of the lake and waterways. Walks are organized in cooperation with East Clare Way from the centre of Scariff, offering lake views and a chance to learn more about the history, culture and natural environment of East Clare. Local arts and crafts also figure prominently, with a chance to see displays of traditional craft-making. The Scariff Harbour Festival prides itself on being a family-focused event and this year will see lots of attractions including the Kids Fun Zone in the GAA field, Moon & Sixpence puppetry, Arts & Crafts for the kids with Grace Burton and Andrew Whitelaw and Kayaking in the Harbour.
2016 sees the Sliabh Aughty Furnace Project stage several events over the weekend, including displays and a blacksmithing competition in the Riverside Park, tours of local iron kilns in Derryoober, Whitegate and Ballyvannon as well as an informative talk by Paul Rondelez in the Community Garden on the history of the iron industry which was established near Scarriff in the 17th century.
Music plays a big part of the weekend as always and this year’s headline acts include Tommy Fleming in the intimate surroundings of the Sacred Heart Church on Thursday 28th July, Hudson Taylor on the main stage on Friday 29th July, the legendary Something Happens! headlining on Saturday 30th July and to close the festival on Sunday 31st July, newcomers Seo Linn will set the scene for Ireland’s most renowned Céilí band, The Kilfenora, to finish.