Here in The Shaking Bog things are really busy as we move into the final stages of preparations for the festival in mid-September. Our small team is working tirelessly to try and make everything run smoothly from the 10th-12th. We are really excited by the programme and hugely grateful to the extraordinary range of artists and writers and nature experts who are so generously giving up their time to make the festival as memorable as it promises to be. Of course – like so many others in the arts and different areas of life – the spectre of COVID-19 hangs heavy over The Shaking Bog.
An unfortunate combination of government inconsistency, inaction and a general lack of clarity around cultural events has left artists and arts organisations across the country – who have invested huge financial and emotional energy in their efforts to stay afloat – in a state of fragility and indecision. We have had enormous interest in this year’s festival and we are delighted to be able to present a ‘live’ programme. However, whilst making every effort to make things feel as ‘normal’ as possible (at the same time as remaining Covid compliant), it is inevitable that our audience capacity will be significantly reduced and we are therefore putting most of our seated events online to avoid disappointment - (please just check our bookings on Eventbrite for further info). We all wish for brighter days ahead and we hope - with fingers crossed - that Minister Catherine Martin and her colleagues will have better news for us by the end of August.
But, on a more positive front, we are grateful for the many generous people have offered to volunteer in the festival. We really couldn't do this without their goodwill and enthusiasm.
In some senses, the festival has already begun with the opening of an extraordinary exhibition of paintings by a neighbour and friend, Joe Wilson, down at the Mermaid Arts Centre in Bray. Joe's paintings beautifully capture the mood, texture and spirit of the valley in which the festival is set. Joe knows this valley like the back of his hand and has walked every hill and hollow. This intimate connection to the landscape infuses this whole exhibition and it is movingly dedicated to three dear friends and mentors of his - who he has walked and talked with over the years – James O’Nolan, Jim Savage, and Dave Lillburn. RIP.
The exhibition runs at Mermaid until September 18 so make sure to drop in.