Curtain comes down on longest established Ulster Scots festival

The organisers say the event will no longer be held.
The organisers say the event will no longer be held.

The organisers of a flagship Ulster Scots festival in Co Antrim have announced that the event will no longer be staged.

The Broadisland Gathering, which marked its 25th anniversary in Ballycarry last year, will not be held due to financial and administrative issues.

In a statement issued by the Ballycarry and District Community Association, a spokesperson said: “For several years now the organisers of the Broadisland Gathering festival have recognised that there has been a problem enlisting essential administrative support for the event.

“The group accepted in 2017 that capacity to deliver the festival was proving difficult and sought to find ways around this problem.

“Earlier in 2018 Ballycarry and District Community Association met with the chief executive and other officials from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to suggest a partnership between the council and the group in order to ensure that Northern Ireland’s longest established Ulster Scots festival would continue. Unfortunately, such a partnership has not proved possible, which has been disappointing news.

“The failure of a major grant application this year also added pressure to those trying to maintain the festival in 2018.”

The spokesperson added: “The organisers have therefore decided with some considerable regret that the Gathering, having successfully marked its 25th anniversary in 2017, has now run its course.

“Recent trends in our society make it more and more difficult to maintain a community spirit, draw down financial support from funding bodies, and stage public events.

“The Broadisland Gathering, having met many challenges over the years, is sadly a victim of modern trends.

“We the organisers will greatly miss the event brightening up the village on the first weekend of September and we would thank everyone who has supported us over the years in making the Gathering a truly remarkable event of which everyone was rightly proud.”

In response, a Mid and East Antrim Borough Council spokesperson said: “A number of council officers met with the Ballycarry and District Community Association in May to discuss what support we could provide to the event.

“It was explained that funding could be made available through our grants scheme if they applied and it was agreed that marketing support would also be provided. Council is disappointed the festival will not go ahead and that the group did not apply for funding or respond to the offers of assistance.”

It is understood there are no plans to seek funding for the event in 2019.