We are fast approaching another Feis Ile/Islay Festival of Music and Malt for 2013. Because our Festival is island-wide, and accommodation bookings are already filling fast, so much that the committee may need to call on Friends of the Feis who let out empty rooms at peak times, usually both Feis weekends. The island community is very supportive of our endeavors and we look forward to presenting another Festival to be proud of. If you would be willing to be a host, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail-mail to Port Ellen Post Office, care of Florence.
Our Festival attempts to mirror our community spirit and we feel that we achieve results to be proud of. While other Festivals enjoy much broader financial support from local authorities and central government agencies, it is difficult to grow ours as accommodation is critical. The Islay Festival has always been delivered on a voluntary basis . As we approach our thirtieth birthday, do we want to change our organisational structure? The potential for job creation may be there, but would this be seen as detracting from our local charm? Continue reading....
In the past few years we have introduced The Big Gig, to give our Festival a sort of micro â€œT in the Distillery Yardâ€ feel. Our first presentation, Donnie Munro, was a resounding success. Our target is to achieve ticket sales of at least 600. On that occasion we had contacted The Proclaimers, who declared they would not appear to less than x of an audience . No hall on Islay could accommodate such a number, hence The Big Gig was born. The committee are always grateful for practical help to attend doors, make tea, take a class, tell stories, sing, dance or otherwise participate or come along to Feis events. This is Islayâ€™s premier festival and we should be proud of it. Without the support of the wider community and our distillery colleagues, the mix of local and invited artistes would be nigh impossible to maintain. This year we will have some new twists; a comedian ,a magician, and featuring a musical and visual presentation telling the story of the 1598 battle of Traigh Gruinart written by one of the Islay Bards, giving a window on Islay history and Gaelic culture. These are the stories we all grew up with, and it will be amazing to share them with a varied audience of both local people and visitors from all over the world.
Other surprises in store have not been previously announced; you heard it here first. From Portnahaven in the West to Bunnahabhain in the North we will have venues for performances. Back by popular request will be Hugo Duncan, star of Radio Ulster for the Final Fling at the Ramsay Hall. In order to promote sensible drinking, we will once again provide Festival Buses, which proved popular. Malt Whisky is a feature of our Feis, and this year we hope to have all of the islandsâ€™ distillery managers under one roof at our whisky nosing event. Islay is about more than whisky, and there are plenty of events in addition to the distilleriesâ€™ daily Open Days. Why not join Stewart And Callum at a selection of our best-loved fly fishing spots to try your luck after the wily trout on â€˜fishing daysâ€™? You can join Diane Brown for a Texas Scramble on the Machrie course, one of Scotlands premier links courses, for a very nominal fee.
Bowling competitions are a gentle form of exercise, and provide another opportunity to meet Islay folk at Bridgendâ€™s and Port Ellenâ€™s Bowling Clubs. Take time out to visit Islay beaches; the Big Strand will give you seven miles of sand, where you can literally walk miles without talking to anyone. If hill walking is your interest, check with gamekeepers at the various estates for your own safety. In prominent positions around the island are several Iron Age forts, and amongst the best examples is Dun Nosebridge; take the Glen road to Mulindry and discover it for yourself. Take a picnic, and enjoy the views of our ancestors. This small island has so much to offer; and producing our Feis is no mean feat for a population of 3500. Weâ€™re one of the best kept secrets on the Scottish Feis circuit; come and enjoy with us. For programme's and other info visit www.theislayfestival.co.uk
Published with kind permission of the Ileach Newspaper