There is a sense of friendly industrialism in Connolly Barracks today as preparations for the Longford Summer Festival reach their climax.
Instead of the usual clammy anxiety before an event, an atmosphere of camaraderie and goodwill prevails.
This stems from the festivalâ€™s intention to support the people of Longford.
Each worker on the site comes from local businesses â€“ the bright yellow JCBs of Kiernan Steel trundle around assembling the marquees and stalls. Local men in hi-vis jackets chat and laugh as they work.
Everyone, though occupied, is proud and willing to discuss their efforts and revel in the excitement of this task.
â€œIf we create a positive vibe by hosting this event, things will improve for Longfordâ€ opines Joe Flaherty, one of the festivalâ€™s organisers. â€œItâ€™s been 15 years since we last held a festival in Connolly Barracks. If this weekend is a success, we hope to make it a regular occurrence in the future.â€
The optimism in the barracks today is infectious. The towering shell of the central marquee is flanked by rows of tents which will house stalls by local retail outlets. Considering the sore blow that has hit Longfordâ€™s retailers over the past few years, this festival is a welcome opportunity for businesses to engage with the public and regain their support.
â€œWe expect 10,000 people to attend the festival over the course of the weekend,â€ Mr Flaherty continues. â€œConsidering that the Bloom festival in Dublin attracted 12,000 people in all, this will be a massive feat for our little town.â€
In addition to food, fashion and home outlets, the Longford Festival will boast cooking demonstrations, nightly concerts with well-known musicians including Nathan Carter, Frances Black and Sharon Shannon, fashion shows, a childrenâ€™s park and other entertainment.
Over 120 volunteers and â‚¬120,000 have gone into ensuring the success of this event, the proceeds of which will go to St. Christopherâ€™s Services and The Attic House Project. The Longford Summer Festival will doubtlessly be an unforgettable occasion and a testament to Longfordâ€™s generous spirit.
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