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Sister Sledge headlining on Saturday at Townlands Carnival, Rusheen Farm, Macroom. Picture: Allie Glynn
Sister Sledge headlining on Saturday at Townlands Carnival, Rusheen Farm, Macroom. Picture: Allie Glynn
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Sister Sledge sparkle in the sun at Townlands

YOU can’t put a price on good weather but we’ve become so inured to our current heatwave to be blasé about our experience of a rain-free Irish festival. 

Elaina Hickey, Lara McDonald, Kizzy Gilchrist, & Katie McDonald, Cork City at Townlands Carnival Macroom, Co. Cork. Pic: Shane J Horan.
Elaina Hickey, Lara McDonald, Kizzy Gilchrist, & Katie McDonald, Cork City at Townlands Carnival Macroom, Co. Cork. Pic: Shane J Horan.
And yet it was easy to count our blessings at this year’s Townlands Carnival.  There was some discussion about the merits or otherwise of moving the event over the road from its previous location. 

There were some who preferred the way the stages had previously been more spread out in the previous spot but gazing at the sun-drenched rolling green fields south from the main field or from Village Hall tent the heart skipped a beat.

But the secret of what makes the event so special is the general vibe. A child-friendly festival, Townlands Carnival attracts an audience ranging from toddlers up to retirees, creating an atmosphere that is laid back and easy going. 

Sister Sledge wowing audiences at Townlands Carnival over the weekend. Pic: Allie Glynn
Sister Sledge wowing audiences at Townlands Carnival over the weekend. Pic: Allie Glynn
It’s the kind of audience that can get down for disco legends Sister Sledge andWaterford electro rave outfit King Kong Company.

William Hickey & Ciara Murry, Glenmire Cork, At Townlands Carnival in Marcoom, Co. Cork Pic: Shane J Horan
William Hickey & Ciara Murry, Glenmire Cork, At Townlands Carnival in Marcoom, Co. Cork Pic: Shane J Horan
A picture of elegance, the Philadelphia divas emerged on stage wearing 1000 watt smiles, as dazzling as their silver sequined outfits with chainmail trimming. 

Their presence on the Rusheen Farm estate is certainly an incongruous one but they are troopers, their less than perfect choreography enhancing the sense of pure fun as they served up hit after hit from Everybody Dance to Good Times. 

Their rendition of Lost In Music may have dragged on a bit but they climaxed with a triumphant We Are Family. If you felt anything less than pure joy at their appearance you are dead inside.

Later on that Saturday evening, King Kong Company may have been a less glamorous proposition - Sister Sledge would never have demanded of the audience to raise their hands so they could smell their armpits - but they delivered on their promise to get everyone dancing.

Sunday afternoon had a decidedly winding down feeling but folk fusion merchants Kila woke the festival from its slumber with a set that rattled and screeched along, mixing Irish trad, Gypsy and rock ‘n’ roll. 

One particularly percussive and hypnotic track felt like trad techno.

Happyalone, at Townlands Carnival 2018, Macroom. Pic: Shane J Horan
Happyalone, at Townlands Carnival 2018, Macroom. Pic: Shane J Horan
The reinvigorated mood was shared elsewhere, particularly on the Rising Sons stage where precocious Cork metal act God Alone left casual onlookers in awe and hardcore quartet Bailer blitzed the stage.

Back on the main stage, the charismatic Bazza Ranks delivered one of the performances of the weekend with a set of hard-edged reggae which on occasion up the ante with drum ‘n’ bass grooves. 

General Levy took up the baton and ran with it, teeing the audience up nicely for the climax with Neil Barnes of Leftfield and rave legends Altern-8 The Sibín Stage, located in a magical oak wood provided some of the more soothing and otherworldly moments, such as Katie Kim’s enchanted Saturday evening set. 

Other highlights were very much Cork-based, such as the avant-hop-hop of Spekulative Fiktion, the ferocious guitar and drums action of Order Of The Mess and the cutting edge electronica of Bantum.