Another Successful Point Festival at Carne

Carne Beach was buzzing with intellectual activity and environmental-friendly merry-making for this year’s Point Festival (Aug 23-25). This unique event attracted European politicians, energy experts, climatologists, environmentalists, film makers, musicians, comedians (and belly-dancers!) for a weekend of lively debate and friendly banter.
The Point Festival is the brain-child of the Green Foundation Ireland (GFI), an independent organisation which wants to see us move towards a more ecological and sustainable future.
It is no accident that they have chosen this area as the location for this annual festival: Carnsore will forever be known as the site proposed for Ireland’s first nuclear power plant back in the late 70s. There were huge anti-nuclear protest gatherings here in 1978 and ’79. The nuclear plant never materialised. Instead Carnsore now hosts a wind farm.
This year’s festival opened on Friday evening with a discussion on the current status of the nuclear industry. Chaired by former MEP Nuala Ahern, the main speaker of the evening was Fr Seán McDonagh, author of “Fukushima – The Death Knell for Nuclear Energy?”. While this may have started the weekend on a rather serious note funny man Albie Philbin Bowman was not long in introducing a touch of levity to proceedings: his off-the-wall and hilariously funny exhortation to all to join the campaign to fight “Terrorist Weather” had them rolling in the aisles! Local rock, blues ‘n’ funk band “the submersibles” kept the party going into the wee small hours.
The main session on Saturday dealt with the main topic of the weekend “Jobs, Democracy and Europe: The Failure of Politics?”. Under the chairmanship of Catalonian green politician Mar Garcia the discussion focused on why current political systems across Europe are not providing us with meaningful, or sufficient, employment. MEP Jean Lambert (UK) and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan both spoke on the subject as did Wexford business man, and former Chairman of Wexford Festival Opera, Peter Scallan. Indeed it was the latter who meentioned the need for a major re-branding by green organisations if they are to continue to have significance in a more ecologically aware world. This session also looked at the dangers of nationalism re-asserting itself across Europe as dissatisfaction with EU institutions rises.
Another highlight of the weekend was a discussion on “New Europe / Old Europe” and the challenges that a larger EU faces in a World where the balance of power shows signs of shifting.
There were workshops throughout the weekend on worker cooperatives, jobs in the renewable energy sector, and using music for campaigning. The latter was particularly popular featuring, as it did, the great American folk singer Jim Page flown in directly from Seattle for the weekend. Page, along with Sean Ó Donaile and madcap singer and chess lover Una O Boyle, entertained listeners with an engaging mix of story and song.
A highlight of the Saturday programme was a nature walk around Lady’s Island led by naturalist Jim Hurley. His infectious love for this beautiful area so rich in natural resources did more than any tourism promotion could ever do to promote this beautiful corner of the county.
Saturday evening was kick back and relax time as hot food, cold beverages and great entertainment were served up for all ages. The crew from Red Moon Theatre had a busy programme in place for younger folk. The much loved Cáca Milis Cabaret travelled from its usual residency at Wexford Arts Centre and, under the baton of the glamorous Helena Mulkerns, it laid on the usual eclectic programme much to the delight of the large audience. There was music, belly-dancing, short films and stories. The music side of the programme really impressed: young Americana-flavoured folksters, The Ocelots, continue to grow in stature; ever versatile street bawler Geoff Morrison was a scream; the always impressive Leni Morrison gave one of her final shows before heading to The States to record her new album; there was a cameo appearance by the always entertaining Una O’Boyle (formerly of the band Hyper(borea)) who led the house in a rousing singing of “Down to the River to Pray”; special guest Eleanor McEvoy pushed all the right buttons with her rendition of “Eve of Destruction”, duetting with MC Helena Mulkerns on Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”, before finishing with a real crowd-pleaser in her own “A Woman’s Heart”. Jim Page delivered a stunning set made up largely by songs from his most recent album Ghost Bikes. He also shared the stage for a few numbers with hot local act Corner Boy much to the delight of the audience.
The festival wrapped up Sunday morning following a dip in the sea, a recuperative breakfast and a chat about Europe and its woes.

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