Sun shines as town celebrates the song and dance of Emerald Isle

DM158820a.jpg Crawley Irish Festival 2015. Lara Patel 8 left and Carla Clarkson 6. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150830-193959008
DM158820a.jpg Crawley Irish Festival 2015. Lara Patel 8 left and Carla Clarkson 6. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150830-193959008

Thousands of people flocked to The Hawth Theatre on Sunday (August 30) to enjoy the annual Crawley Irish Festival.

Billed as the event which brings the town’s summer festival calendar to a close, the weather did not disappoint as all generations enjoyed music, song and dance from the Emerald Isle.

DM158865a.jpg Crawley Irish Festival 2015. L to R Gill Archer, Ann McGovern and Linda Gibbard. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150830-194057008

DM158865a.jpg Crawley Irish Festival 2015. L to R Gill Archer, Ann McGovern and Linda Gibbard. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150830-194057008

The headline act was John McNicholl, who included Crawley in his tour from Ireland and he was supported by many other acts on the outdoor and indoor stages.

Festival director John Nolan said: “John McNicholl brought the festival to a great climax. The energy was brilliant. He was on stage for two and a quarter hours and kept everyone on the dance floor all charged up.

“We also had the London Lasses - Chris O’Mally and six girls - on stage. The energy and talent on stage was unbelievable.

“As well as that we had the support acts on both stages and the ceili.”

One popular feature was the music in the foyer of The Hawth and there were also activities for children outside.

John said: “There were ten to 20 minute gigs in the main foyer. Once you walked in, you were hit with music. It was like a buskers’ corner.

“There was something for everybody of every generation and every culture - the people coming to Crawley as well as the residents.”

The bank holiday weather could have rained off the event, but they had the luck of the Irish on their side.

John said: “We got that window as they say. The sun shone and we were really grateful to the Man Above.

“We had about 4,000 people and looking at the forecast people might have been scared off. Only an hour after close, it rained cats, dogs and elephants.”

The festival has been running for the past 20 years and is all funded with donations, including support from the Irish government, Crawley Borough Council and West Sussex County Council.

John added: “We wouldn’t be able to survive without their support. We cannot thank them enough.”