The Isle of Man will be taking part in Europe’s largest Celtic music and dance festival next week, when a delegation of Manx musicians, dancers, artists and pavilion volunteers will descend on the seaport of Lorient in Brittany from 2nd to 11th August. This will be the 49th Festival Interceltique de Lorient and the town expects to receive around 750,000 visitors over its 10 days.
Despite being one of the smallest Celtic nations celebrated by the festival, the Isle of Man has been involved for nearly 5 decades. This year, there is an impressive delegation from the Island, headed by the festival’s Manx delegate, Grainney Sheard, along with Sarah Hendy as Manx Art Coordinator. The performers include adult and child dance group Skeddan Jiarg, who will be performing on a huge stage at the Espace Marine and taking part in the televised La Grande Parade des Nations Celtes, as well as other festival events and community outreach. The Mollag Band were also invited to perform this year, and the legendary Manx band will have some high profile performances at the Quai de la Bretagne and Espace Paroles. Winner of the 2018 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Musician, Mera Royle will be performing at the festival for the first time, where she will be joined by fellow young musicians from the band Scran: Owen Williams and Raygie Dolloso. A short documentary about Mera by Isle of Man film-makers, Dark Avenue, will also be premiered at the festival’s Cine-FIL. The official artist representing the Isle of Man is Julia Ashby-Smyth, who will be part of the Euro Celtic Art exhibition with her eye-catching illustration based on Manx folklore.
Grainney Sheard is looking forward to her first year as official delegate, and says; “I am thrilled to be representing the Island as the official delegate alongside our Manx performers this year. The Island has a very high standard of talent and we are incredibly proud to showcase this on such a prestigious international stage as Festival Interceltique de Lorient.”
Much of the Isle of Man’s presence is centred around the Manx Pavilion, which is a hub of activity on the busy Quai des Pays Celtes, offering local products, live music and dance performances, and tourist information. Organised by Peter Young of Event Management Solutions, the pavilion is manned by a team of volunteers and chefs who will serve Manx food and drink, and engage with the thousands of festival-goers from around the world. This year, the pavilion bar will be run by award-winning local producers, Fynoderee Gin, who fittingly use Julia Ashby-Smyth to design their stunning packaging. The pavilion and performance space are sponsored by Culture Vannin and the Isle of Man Arts Council, with the support of Visit Isle of Man and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, and there will be daily entertainment on the stage from the Manx performers.
This year’s festival is focussed on the culture of Galicia, and there will be media coverage from around Europe and further afield. The Isle of Man’s Chief Minister Howard Quayle and Marlene Maska MLC have been invited to sample some of the festival. The Chief Minister said:
“I am looking forward to attending the Festival Interceltique de Lorient next week. It is an excellent opportunity to showcase the talent of Manx musicians, performers, artists and creatives of all types. It is also a great opportunity to promote our fantastic food and drink offering and tell the world all that is great about the Isle of Man.”
Dr Chloë Woolley, Manx Music Development Officer for Culture Vannin has also been involved in the preparations of the Manx delegation, and she explains the importance of promoting Manx culture and the arts internationally:
“Festival Interceltique de Lorient is a prime opportunity to display what the Island has to offer to a large international audience. Leading up to the festival, the Manx acts work tirelessly to create high level performances which will be enjoyed by festival-goers from all over the world. Furthermore, the festival is a melting pot of different cultures which provides the ideal location for future cultural exchange.”