Eco-Neighbourhood Festival in an Irish City Suburb

It is refreshing to know in these times of economic gloom that in the heart of a very built up urban suburb, a neighbourhood fair dedicated to heritage and a traditional rural lifestyle could capture the imagination of local people.
Traditional Cast Iron Kitchen Cooking Set over an Open Fire at Harvest Fest

Well that happened on September 22nd in Galway city when approximately 350 people attended the Ballinfoile Mór Harvest and Heritage Festival in the Ballinfoile Mór Community Organic Garden.
The event, now in its third year, has as its theme the promotion of locally grown organic fruits and vegetables.
Mayor of Galway, Cllr Terry O'Flaherty buys some of Garden vegetables & fruits
But the festival has become more than a tribute to organic food. It has metamorphosed into a celebration of the broader themes of community (Meitheal), culture, children, environment, ecology, social heritage and preserving traditional hand-made arts, crafts and skills.
Second Hand Book & Toys Stalls
Hence there were  stalls for locally baked cakes and buns as well as for locally produced wooden and leather goods; an open hearth fire where potatoes were being boiled in skillet pots; a outdoor oven made from local clay serving pizzas; a Irish traditional music seisiún; dozens of scarecrows in a multitude of colours and sizes made by children from the local primary school (Scoil san Phronsias) and playschool (Sunny Meadows); woodturning; a blacksmith's forge; a bike repair workshop; second hand books and toys stalls; a tree conservation stall; a vintage bike display; pony rides for kids; a lively DJ playing an eclectic mix of dance music and Irish ballads; impromptu Irish dancing and singing; a marine aquarium, juggling and face-painting.
Mihchelle looking after the Cakes & Buns Stall
But one of the most popular highlights of the festival  was without doubt the shoeing of a horse by farrier Joe Dodds which enthralled all those present. 
Joe Dodds Shoeing a Horse

Thanks to the efforts of a small band of dedicated and socially conscious residents, Ballinfoile is witnessing a resurgence in community volunteerism based around a sense of community, pride of place and of awareness of the need to preserve local heritage in a time of growing globalisation.  
Scarecrows giving a Children's & Artistic dimension to the garden
Plans are already being made to make the Ballinfoile Mór Harvest and Heritage Festival even bigger and better, with topics such as butter churning, quilt making and children's street games being included.

Buying a Book
Trad Seisiún in action

There were queues all day long at the Anja's Face painting stall

Serving Hot & Cold Dishes

Elder Taylor selling 'Little Herbal Garden' Boxes

A captive Audience for the Juggling Demonstrations

Galway Atlantaquaria's Aquarium populated with crabs, starfishes & other creatures of the seas

Mayor Terry O'Flaherty addresses the crowds

Foroige youth volunteers serving pizzas freshly baked in the garden's Clay Oven

Joe's Pony Rides were a big hit with the children

What a fine collection of Scarecrows!

Joe wooing the audience with his wonderful crooning

The Garden's Wooden Seats & Benches were made by local craftpeople
Nothing like a good cuppa of tea and a good chat!

Fergus & Willy at the Fruit & Vegetable Stall

Matthew and Lenka showing samples of wild food from Irish forests
Jay at the Bike Repair workshop

See previous articles:
Third Annual Harvest Festival in Galway Neighbourhood

Second Harvest Festival in a Galway Neighbourhoood

Mayor to officially open Galway city's largest community garden

A Celtic Forest Garden in 21st century Ireland

'Summer Picnic & Cycle in the Park' event to start a new tradition?

Caroline with one of the 'High Nelly Bicycle's restored by Cumann na bhFear

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