While green beer and epic street parties can signify St. Patrick’s Day in Waterloo Region, this year Sue Nally is planning something different. She is hosting the Irish Real Life Festival (IRL) from March 12-19.
“There is more to Irish culture than beer, although we like beer just fine,” says Sue. “The IRL is a chance to showcase a rich array of contemporary and traditional elements of Irish culture, including music, storytelling, dance, cuisine, film, and literature, as well as classic beer and whiskey events.”
Sue, who you will not be surprised to learn is Irish, says the festival was inspired by the feeling of community that often comes with Irish culture and wanting to help repair our community’s relationship with St. Patrick’s Day. “There’s no denying that drinking is part of Irish culture but it’s always been more about the company and building community,” she says. “Pubs are popular because of the social element and that’s what we want to promote – spending time together while appreciating the uniqueness of Irish culture.”
An intrepid team of volunteers – Margaret Nally, Ruth Shushan, Kate Swift, Jamie Cooper, Deirdre Nally, and Margaret O’Shea-Bonner – have pulled this event together quickly and are planning a range of activities for the whiskey-lovin’ citizen to the literature-lovin’ citizen, and lots in between.
Irish Real Life Festival schedule – March 12-19
While hard pressed to pick a most-anticipated event, Sue is excited about the unique events planned. At Over the Rainbow, Bataireacht or Irish stick fighting, will be showcased, something that has never been performed in the region and the beer event, What Ales Ya, will have rare beers to sample. The Irish literary salon, Beyond Brooklyn, will focus on contemporary Irish literature, something many people may not know about, and Whiskey and Whimsy blends storytelling with – yup – whiskey tasting.
“The great programming aside, the businesses willing to open their doors and host events are fundamental to the scope and success of this festival,” says Sue. “Kitchener-Waterloo has an engaged, caring community of businesses that are open to new ideas, and supporting culture and creativity.”
The lovely “Kiss Me I’m Irish” Sue Nally, director of the Irish Real Life Festival
This is year one of the festival and Sue already has big plans for next year, including more contemporary film, theatre, and sports. But what will make this inaugural year a success for her? “Seeing people enjoy themselves and having them learn something new about Irish culture will make it a success,” she says. “However, it’s always a good sign when the event planners are having a good time too.”
You can plan your IRL Festival activities online, and keep up-to-date on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to say hi to Sue as you #Paintthetowngreen.
P.S. Sue’s favourite topic of conversation: new and exciting ideas about anything and everything.