On an extremely hungover Bank Holiday Monday, having partied in the bright lights of Portlaoise on the Sunday night we had two choices...... commiserate with headaches and dodgy stomachs or get up out of bed and distract ourselves! Not ones for feeling sorry for ourselves we decided on the latter and took off on another of our little adventures! Where to?? None other than the picturesque town of Durrow, Co Laois for the 3rd annual "Howya Festival" aka "The National Scarecrow Competition. (I know, we didn't know such thing existed until Mammy Mc rang with an invite!!) So the two of us packed our 10 heads into the car and away we went!
Pulling into Durrow we didn't know where to look..... there were scarecrows all around us in all shapes and forms but there is no doubt which one caught our attention straight away..... we found WALLY!!! (Our obsession with the childrens' fictional character is evident in our previous posts!) Originally dubbed the Festival of Friendships, what better way to start our trip than with a good old catch up with our old pal Wally!
Considering the festival had been running for over a week now, and we had in fact missed out on most of the entertainment included in the festivities such as treasure hunts, exhibitions, many workshops, the High Nelly Race, a duck race, a table quiz, village markets and cookery demonstrations, we were astounded at the number of people still flocking to the village for the family fun on offer.
(We couldn't possibly fit in all the photos but check them out here)
Having left it so late in the day, we were sorry we hadn't heard about the festival sooner, we made our way to the center and went into the Scarecrow Village. We felt like we were robbing them when we realised it was only a mere €1 entry fee so Mammy Mc kindly bought us some raffle tickets to show our support for the festival. Inside we were lucky enough to get chatting to some of the organisers and learn more about the festival. Hugh Shepard, of the Durrow Development fund gave us the low down on all the hard work and planning that went on behind the scenes. With the Durrow friendship festival running over 20 years, they decided to give it a face lift 3 years ago, introducing the "Howya Festival" and incorporating the National Scarecrow Championships. No small feet for a village with a population of little over 800, but High was quick to point out the commitment and involvement from the all the locals. Laois Tourism and Laois Partnership really got on board this year with support, along with the continued encouragement from all the local businesses who rallied together.
The rain managed to hold off as we made our way around the scarecrow trail and took in as much as we possibly could. Having caught a glimpse of "Hairy Harney" "Luke Ming" and Enda & co around the centre of the village (or at least their scarecrow counterparts) we headed back to the car in a giggly state following our childlike antics like we were back in our "hay"day!! (sorry couldn't help it!) But not too soon, just as pulled out the phone rang. Now never one to use the mobile whilst driving (ahem) we pulled back in to hear that we had in fact won the first prize in the raffle. Woooohoooooo..... fair play Mammy Mc!! With a quick (legal) U-e we pulled into the scarecrow village to claim our prize..... none other than a HUGE wheelbarrow chockablock full of goodies topping off the excitement and rounding off a terrific day in the Midlands.
Durrow Development Forum and all at Howya towers..... Hip Hip Hooray! Congratulations on such a superbly organised and fun filled family festival. We are your new biggest fans..... see you for 2012!
The learn more about the festival check out www.howya.ie or join them on facebook. We URGE you to not to miss this wacky madness next year!
You can find out about all the funky Irish festivals with Discover Ireland Festival Guide and you never know, we might just see you there!
Until next time...... Keep it Country!!
Ciamhie Mc xx