Emily Humphries, representing The Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co. Waterford, was crowned ‘Queen of the Sea 2012’ in front of an audience of thousands as Youghal celebrated one its most successful festivals in years at the 3rd Annual Festival Event. The festival ran in the East Cork seaside town from 6th – 8th July 2012.
One of six children, Emily recently completed her Leaving Certificate and hopes to continue her studies in Trinity College in Spanish and Business. With over 30 entrants to the ‘Queens’ competition, the entire weekend was geared towards bringing colour, fun and entertainment to families of all ages to Youghal.
On Friday evening, despite the downpours, the festival literally ‘kicked off’ at pace with the ‘Youghal Criterium Cycling Race’ – organised by Youghal Cycling Club over a specially dedicated circuit in the town. Earlier in the day, a contingency plan to set up a marquee in Nealon’s Quay Car Park ensured that the vast majority of the large crowds were protected from the elements. The ‘Queens’ were duly introduced to the public by newly elected Mayor of Cork County, Cllr Barbara Murray.
As the sun appeared on Saturday, so too did the thousands of visitors to Market Square to revel in the ‘Youghal Food Festival’.
Speaking after the weekend highs, Event organiser, Pádraig Sheehan reflected on the festival. “It was incredible, what made it for us as organisers were the amount of families who were out with their extended families including grandparents and relatives. There was a fantastic atmosphere in town and a great buzz all weekend long, he said. “I spoke to a lot of traders and retailers in the town and they were very positive in terms of the amount of visitors and the amount of people who came to town and stayed for not only for the weekend, but are planning to stay now the entire week. We are delighted to see that every business in Youghal benefited to such a degree. It seemed that every chipper, restaurant, fast food place, pub and shop was packed with visitors from near and far. It’s only onwards and upwards now for Youghal! said a hugely enthusiastic Pádraig.
Initial results of research surveys undertaken by newly qualified ‘Failte Ireland’ certified tour guides in the area, indicated a large number of families travelled from the midland areas of the country to attend the festival. Speaking about the economic impact of the festival, Acting President of Youghal Chamber & Development, Marie Barry spoke about the importance of ‘The Queen of the Sea Festival’ to the local economy. “Festivals have proven to be a key factor in a tourist’s decision to choose one destination over another and are hugely significant in attracting first time as well as repeat visitors. This is vital to the resurgence of Youghal as a first class tourist town. We need to continue to offer tourists additional reasons to visit Youghal over and above other destinations. Said Marie.
One enthusiastic festival attendee from Co. Offaly, Catherine O Malley, was overwhelmed with the events in Youghal, which kept her family enthralled over the course of the weekend. We had made the decision to take our family holiday in Youghal this year after doing some research on the area. It sounded like the ideal location, so much to do, no matter what the weather. The timing was all that really was left to be decided, but when we heard about the ‘Queen of the Sea’ Festival taking place this weekend, we knew we had to be here. It was magnificent. The kids are already talking about their holiday in Youghal next year, said Catherine.
On Sunday the sun once again made a welcome appearance. Labelled as ‘fun day’, this day was all about the kids. Following their exploits in the crab-catching and sandcastle competition the day before, they were treated to a full free family fun day with bouncy castles, rock climbing, a fun dog show, along with family fun races. The highlight proved to be the ‘wife carrying race’ on the mall beach which generated great fun and laughter to round off a spectacular weekend.
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