While there may have been some negative sentiment this year, there was no sign of it at last weekend’s Spraoi in Waterford.
The festival line-up was complimented by everybody who made the effort to go and see it. Families were well catered for in the daytime events.
The jugglers and magicians thrilled youngsters at Wyse Park on Saturday and Hanover St on Friday. Hydromania at the Courthouse proved to be a massive hit with the youngsters, even if some of them got wet as part of the act. The Courthouse was lit up in spectacular fashion in an event sponsored by Waterford solicitors. Patrons had to be there early as the gates closed when the area was full.
The AOL stage on John Roberts Square proved very popular on Saturday and Sunday afternoon with top class musical entertainment.
The Latin Dub Sound System played both days. Split Whiskers and Fat 45, all from the UK, brought top class entertainment from London and Cambridge to Waterford, ranging in style from Latin dance music to 1950s style dance and raw rock.
The Dave Connolly band on the Plaza also had some old style music that went down really well.
Local award winning band, Gorbachev got some rave reviews from locals, as did the traditional Irish music players, who attracted ever bigger numbers at each session.
Soul Reason played a great set down in Harveys on Sunday afternoon. The reformed again Glory Days also had a great set in McLoughlins early on Sunday evening, with Niall Powell and Pat Cosgrove belting out some great rock tunes from JJ Cale and Van Morrison, as well as a fantastic Richie Havens number.
But back to the Trad band. We caught up them Sunday outside the Kazbah on John St, where they performed some brilliant sets, later adding some bongo drums to the electric mandolin, banjo and fiddle.
Mature rocker from Dun Laoghaire Sonny Condell and Tir na n-Og reformed for a special gig in a packed Downes, where the doors were almost closed, so great was the demand to get inside and see a music legend.
Sonny, along with Leo Kelly from Carlow, played some of their vintage numbers like Down in the City and recalled playing Downes for the pub’s anniversary about 7 years ago. Leo recalls the Seventies in Tramore and earlier when his family went there on holidays. One fan travelled all the way from Grenoble in France with his parents to see and meet the band plus get the old vinyl albums autographed.
Great crowds turned out for the parade on the Sunday night. Everyone raved about the ship, again another spectacular and great theme, but some parents would like the organisers, whom they highly praised, to try and start it a little earlier next year as young children did find it rather exhausting waiting along the quay, with the fireworks not finishing till 11pm.
So the Spraoi is certainly good for tourism, with many foreign accents to be heard from English to American, French, German, Swedish and Polish, as well as many of our newer immigrants from Africa and Asia enjoyed the music with the locals and getting a taste for Waterford in festive mood.
The atmosphere was happy throughout the afternoon with less public drinking of alcohol. Gardai were spotted seizing drink from teenagers and keeping a strong but discrete presence. Full marks to them was the general viewpoint.