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Curtain falls on Bard of Armagh Festival after 23 years

Loughall's Jimmy Rafferty performing at the Bard of Armagh Festival in 2013. The annual event has now come to an end, organisers have revealed J
Paul Ainsworth

AN annual event celebrating the best of witty Irish verse and storytelling has come to an end after 23 years.

The Bard of Armagh Festival of Humorous Verse took place each November, giving performers a platform to entertain sell-out audiences with funny and satirical poems and stories.

The brainchild of John Makem - nephew of the original Bard of Armagh, musician Tommy Makem – the festival drew crowds to Armagh’s City Hotel, and in recent years featured performers from beyond Ireland.

However, last year’s festival has turned out to be the final one, as John revealed he was pulling the plug on the event in order for it to go out “on a high note”.

A festival spokesman told the Irish News – a former sponsor of the Bard of Armagh – that now was the right time for the curtain to come down.

“Over the years there was an exuberance and a high energy that kept things going, and this was thanks to some of the great performers and their memorable verses,” he said.

“Sadly, some of those wonderful bards are no longer with us, such as the great Michael Quinn, Joan Gaffney and Matt McAteer - they were big favourites.

“In the past few years we had to work harder than ever to keep things fresh. It was getting to the stage where we would have to double our efforts to keep the festival going, so we thought this was the right time to end things and leave people with wonderful memories, rather than have the festival run out of steam.”

Thanking those who helped bring the Bard of Armagh festival to life each year, including the local council and sponsors, the spokesman added: “Everything has a life cycle. It’s time to move on and remember all the good times that were had.”

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