Sea and land lovers will converge on Rathmullan and Lough Swilly for the solstice weekend of June 22nd–24th and the second SeaFest Lough Swilly.
The non-profit event, billed a celebration of our coastal environment on the water, on shore and at the table, will provide a unique opportunity for first timers to sample the delights of windsurfing, sailing, paddle boarding, snorkelling and sea kayaking.
Those preferring ‘terra firma’ can enjoy traditional vintage fairground games, the local produce of the Donegal Country Markets, crafts from Donegal Designer Makers, and musical highlights that include an appearance by the highly successful Henry Girls from across Lough Swilly as well as the US-based Hillfolk Noir.
Lovers of good food can expect a spectacular menu of local ingredients that includes Mulroy Bay oysters, spit-roasted Donegal organic pork, Rathmullan Coddle, Good Food Road Food Irish Stew, Lough Swilly Mackerel, pizzas from the wood-fired oven, and an assortment of Irish craft beers.
“SeaFest Lough Swilly is an event for everyone,” explained Mark Wheeler of Rathmullan House, one of the organisers.
“For sailors and watersports enthusiasts, be they experienced or novice; for families in search of something active to do with the kids; for people who simply take pleasure in being at the seaside; and of course for everyone who enjoys good local food.”
“We were extremely pleased and happy with how things went last year,” added organiser, Patricia McAteer. “There was such an easy-going, family-friendly atmosphere, and so many happy faces. We want to recreate that buzz again this year, but also add a few new highlights to keep things fresh.”
The festival begins on the evening of Friday, 22 June with the running of the ever-popular Rathmullan 5km. Afterwards, long-distance swimming legend, Anne Marie Ward, will lead the traditional blessing of the boats accompanied by uplifting spirituals from the Columcille Gospel Choir.
On Saturday, 23 June the action kicks off in earnest with a Kids Triathlon and a Try-a-Triathlon for adults. “This is a perfect opportunity for everyone interested in the sport to give it a gentle, introductory try,” says Gavin Crawford of Letterkenny’s 24/7 Triathlon Club, the experts watching over this part of the SeaFest programme.
Saturday also sees the second annual running of the Saldanha Cup, a traditional keelboat sailing regatta commemorating the loss of the frigate, the HMS Saldanha.
While the big boats are busy chasing each other up Lough Swilly to the site of the Saldanha wreck near spellbinding Ballymastocker Strand, the smaller sails will come out to play in SeaFest’s dinghy regatta.
“We’ve adopted a racing format for varying skill levels, from beginner to advanced, to encourage as many people as possible to participate,” says Rick LeVert, one of the volunteers behind Rathmullan’s community sailing programme. “Participating, getting active on and off the water—this is what SeaFest is all about.”
Seafest is organised by a non-profit local community group and all proceeds from the weekend will be used to support local charitable groups and projects.
For the full programme check out www.seafestloughswilly.com