Lughnasa Fair axed due to ‘funding issues’

Reeanactors strike a pose at last year's Lughnasa Fair.  INCT 32-409-RM
Reeanactors strike a pose at last year's Lughnasa Fair. INCT 32-409-RM

The Lughnasa Fair will not be taking place in Carrick this year as NIEA funding “remains an issue”, Mid and East Antrim Council has said.

The medieval-themed summer festival was staged annually at Carrickfergus Castle for over 40 years.

Although the two-day fair was axed in 2012 due to a lack of funding, it returned as a one-day event in 2013 and 2014.

A statement from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency read: “Regrettably, DOE will not be in a position to hold the Lughnasa Fair at Carrickfergus Castle this year due to budget constraints.”

Kragfergus Living History will instead be holding a separate event in the castle on Saturday August 22 from 11am to 4pm. “The group has requested the use of the Castle Green as part of this event by way of ‘overspill’, but not as the main location; this is currently being considered,” a spokesperson for MEA Council said.

Discussions are ongoing between council and the NIEA in terms of a joint partnership approach to the Castle, the spokesperson added.

MEA Mayor, Councillor Billy Ashe said: “Recent conversations between Council and the DOE have proved very productive. I am pleased with our partnership approach for the future management of this castle which remains a key feature of our own tourism offering.”

Expressing his disappointment at the news was former Carrick councillor Sean Neeson, who was instrumental in establishing the first Lughnasa Fair in the 1970s. “It was always a major draw for the castle and the town itself,” he said.