RTE presenter Mary Kennedy will open this year’s AOIFA Festival in Ardee on Friday June 9th, the festival organisers have confirmed.
The popular Nationwide star, who has formerly fronted the Eurovision Song Contest from Dublin as well as Open House with Marty Whelan, will officially open the national flower festival on the Friday evening ahead of the two day event, which is expected to bring high numbers of visitors to the town.
That opening will take place at the Church of the Nativity of Our Lady, which will then act as one of the two main venues for flower exhibitions over the two days – the other being St Mary’s Church of Ireland.
Organisers have also confirmed to ThisIsArdee.ie that as we previously reported, Kennedy’s popular and long running magazine programme Nationwide will be in Ardee on Saturday for a day of recording to be broadcast on RTE One later in the month.
The programme – which is fronted by Mary Kennedy and Anne Cassin – has recently been in the Ardee area. Late last year, the show visited Reaghstown and specifically the set of the Wild Goose Lodge film ahead of it’s national release last October.
The 2017 festival, this year called ‘Celtic Way’, comes to Ardee two years after it’s last outing in Ennis, Co. Clare. AOIFA is the Irish Association of Irish Floral Artists and comprises of 90 clubs across the country and has around 6,000 members in total.
Ardee Concert Band will perform at both the official opening on the Friday evening and again over the course of the weekend.
This year – the festival will use the Church of the Nativity of Our Lady and St Mary’s Church of Ireland as the two main venues, while Ardee Parish Centre will also be a hub of activity over the three days of the festival. While a €10 programme will admit patrons to both churches over the entire weekend, activities in the parish centre will be free of charge.
There will be a craft corner, plant sales, Once Loved floral accessories, assorted trade stands, teas, raffles and an art exhibition there for all to enjoy for free.
Scores of people are expected to attend the festival from across the country – and the AOIFA hope to create a festival atmosphere around Ardee for the weekend.
The official opening with Mary Kennedy will take place on the Friday at 7.30pm and the festival will be open on Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 6pm each day.
Every two years, they nominate a charity to lend their valuable support to and their chosen charity for the 2017-2019 cycle will benefit from all funds raised at the event. This year it is the Irish Association for Cancer Research.
In 2015, the festival was held at Ennis Cathedral and St Columbia’s Church of Ireland in the town. In Ardee, the main sites of the festival will be the Church of the Nativity of Our Lady on John Street and St Mary’s Church of Ireland on Market Street where car, bus and coach loads of flower enthusiasts from around Ireland will come view the arrangements and displays.
Two years ago, more than 100 floral exhibits were on display across the two churches and a similar number will be on display in Ardee. Back then, RTE Sport’s Marty Morrissey opened the festival.
It is expected that Ardee will see at least 4,000 visitors – the number that visited Ennis two years ago – over the weekend but local co-ordinators are hopeful of even more coming to the town.