Local MEP Mairead McGuinness was in town on Friday night to officially open the 14th annual Ardee Baroque Festival in the intimate and stunning surrounds of Hatch’s Castle in the centre of town.
The festival – which runs for three days across two venues in Ardee – is an ever popular annual event on the local music and cultural calendar.
Among those in attendance at the ancient townhouse on Friday night were McGuinness, Louth County Council cathaoirleach Colm Markey, County Arts Officer Brian Harten and local Fine Gael councillor Dolores Minogue and Ardee Baroque Festival Programme co-ordinator Pauline Ashwood.
Speaking to the assembled crowd, who had just taken the opening show of the festival – a reading of Frank Miller Stole My Girl by members of Lit Lab – McGuinness expressed her delight at being present as the festival embarked on it’s 14th annual outing.
“I’m delighted to be in this wonderful building – it’s my first time – on this wonderful occasion” she said.
“I was here at the first event in 2004. I can remember that year and the fact the event is still happening shows there’s a big interest and also that those who bring it together – the committee, Louth County Council, musical and cultural people – can make things happen with that energy and that enthusiasm.”
The Festival continues today (Saturday) with performances from Music Generation Louth and violinist Mairead Hickey before the headline show at St Marys Abbey featuring the Irish Baroque Orchestra with Sinead Campbell Wallace.
“I’m very pleased to be here,” McGuinness continued. “I hope this continues to be what it is, a gathering of people who love music and culture and who like to come out and celebrate it.
To some extent, the work I do at European Union level is about bringing people together and we often say it isn’t just about politics – it’s about culture and history.”
In January this year, Ardee native McGuinness was re-elected Vice President of the European Parliament in the first round of voting in Brussels today.
The MEP and former journalist and broadcaster, who splits her time between Brussels and her home just outside Ardee, was elected as one of 12 Vice Presidents of the European Parliament in 2014.
She is viewed as one of the favourites to be elected as the next President of Ireland, with some bookmakers offering odds as short as 10/1 for her to succeed Michael D Higgins.
“In this building, there’s enormous history. If these walls could talk, it would be quite incredible. One of the other features of this event is young people performing. When young people see other young people playing, it’s a great encouragement. It’s like languages.
“The Irish Baroque Orchestra have been the mainstay at the festival, and that’s really fantastic. Above all else, like everything that happens locally and in communities, it’s about a few people.
“We have to thank the council as well for being involved from the very outset and for keeping things going. The buzz and the enthusiasm and the chat is lovely,” she added.
“To be here at the first one and and to be here now gives me great pleasure. It is nice to be asked to do things locally. Well done to all those involved in putting these together. It takes courage and enthusiasm. Sometimes it’s easier to do nothing but I think you add to the gaiety of life.”