Liss Ard: A festival of delights
Music fans are in for a treat with the return of the Liss Ard Festival which takes place in the stunning Liss Ard Estate in Skibbereen this August bank holiday weekend with a spectacular line up of music, literature, spoken word and gourmet food. Kieran O’Mahony went to Liss Ard to visit the grounds, sampled local food produce, spoke to the organisers and even went by helicopter over the 200 acre estate to get a birds’ eye view of what festival goers can expect
When it comes to settings, there is nowhere to compare to the Liss Ard Country Estate just outside Skibbereen. This spectacular estate is a true gem of gardens, lakes, trails and ponds and is also home to the Victorian Liss Ard Country House and the stunning Irish Sky Garden crater designed by James Turrell. It is the perfect setting for the forthcoming Liss Ard Festival which will see artists like Mick Flannery, Lisa Hannigan, Toots & The Maytals and Chic take to the stage. The estate is no stranger to festivals as it previously hosted a series of music festivals between 1997 and 1999 that saw stars like Patti Smith, Nick Cave and Lou Reed descend on the estate.
The new Liss Ard Festival hopes to capture the nostalgia of this original festival while at the same time bringing something new and unique to the festival calendar. The West Cork Ukulele Orchestra, one of many local acts that are set to play at the event entertained us to a short set and this was complimented by glorious foodie treats from Gubbeen Smokehouse in the front garden which certainly gave us an appetite of what to expect for the festival.
“We’re very excited because this is the first time something like this has been done with John Reynolds of POD, who organises the annual Electric Picnic, so we hope to bring a little bit of that specialness to Liss Ard and make it memorable. Liss Ard is the festival as it’s so beautiful itself that it doesn’t matter what you put on here it will compliment this spectacular estate,” said Lindsey Holmes, publicist for the festival.
“There’s something for everyone in the line up, you’ve got a bit of reggae, a bit of Irish, a bit of disco. We’re also keen to push the family aspect to this festival whereby there is a special family camping area, children under 12 get in free and there’s a children’s play area as well. Also you can come for the weekend or just buy a day pass so tickets options are very flexible.
“We have a Literary stage, a music stage, a holistic healing and children’s area and a food market so there’s plenty of activities throughout the weekend. There will be a dance tent as well which will run later into the night. Food will also play an important part and we hope to tap into that with an array of local food produce so festival goers will be able to fine dine while listening to some great music.”
Declan McCarthy, one of the organisers of the festival said he was delighted to have joined John Reynolds in putting together this boutique festival.
“I came here as a punter myself to those early Liss Ard Festivals so we’re trying to recreate that special vibe again with a very eclectic mix of international and national acts and also bring in some young writers and poets for the Literary stage,” said Declan.
“We’ve also got a few West Cork acts playing the festival like LOWmountain, Black and The West Cork Ukulele Orchestra and I think it’s important to keep that element, that it is a West Cork Festival. Liss Ard is like a headline attraction in itself, it’s not about any one act, it’s about the whole experience, atmosphere and the scenery. You could find anything during the festival as you wander along the paths and gardens and you might see art installations and maybe a few surprises as well. We will have a theatre of food with West Cork food producers showing how they create their produce and get to sample them as well.”
The promoters have also just announced a wide variety of new acts to an already bursting line up and new additions to the Acoustic Stage include the acoustic indie folk duo, Heathers, Limerick four piece, Moscow Metro, Black, Julie Feeney, Caoimín Ó Raghallaigh and The Céilí All Stars.
Poet and novelist Joe Dunthorne and Irish novelist Paul Murray have also been added to the Literary stage.
Liss Ard 2012 - A Festival of Music, Literature, Drama and Food takes place on 4 and 5 August at Liss Ard Country Estate in Skibbereen, Co. Cork. Weekend Camping Tickets are €89.50 and weekend with no camping tickets are €70.50, day tickets are €39.50 and are available from Ticketmaster. The festival is over 18s but children under 12 are welcome and are free of charge. See www.lissardfestival.com for more details.