14/06/2013 – Minister Dinny McGinley opens Rosses Point Sea Shanty Festival
Friday, 14th June 2013—Dinny McGinley T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, will be in Co. Sligo this evening to open the Rosses Point Sea Shanty Festival (5.30pm).
This is the fourth year of the Rosses Point Shanty Festival. The festival has proved to be a showcase for the local tourist industry, drawing many foreign visitors to the Northwest and particularly Sligo. Links have been fostered with many international shanty festivals around the world, and this year will see groups from Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, Spain, Scotland, and France join shanty singers from Waterford.
Speaking in advance of the festival, Minister McGinley acknowledged the importance of the event locally: “The Sea Shanty Festival has become very important for the preservation of maritime culture in this part of the country, and Rosses Point itself has a rich historical connection to the sea back through many generations.”
Rosses Point, as Sligo’s maritime village, has a long maritime connection. In the 1800s it was stated of Rosses Point that ‘many of the villagers knew more of the coast of Spain and the Barbadoes than they knew of the other side of their own mountains’. Sea songs and particularly sea shanties formed an integral part of every sailor’s life in the days of sail. By singing together as they worked, the men were able to work in unison so that their efforts had maximum effect; there was a saying that ‘a good shantyman is worth ten men in a gale’.
Events during the festival will include a literary gathering, a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate all those who have died in sea tragedies over the years, boat races, and three sea-shanty workshops. The Minister commended the festival for its efforts to introduce the traditions of the sea to a present-day audience, adding that“as a celebration of age-old traditions, songs, poetry and literature, it is a fantastic community-based event that brings a new and valuable awareness to the area.”