County Clare: Irish icon to be celebrated at Milwaukee Fest

Mark Dunphy, Dunphy PR, 086-8534900

Milwaukee, Wisconsin – The legend of Brian Ború, reported to be the subject of a €80 million Hollywood production in 2014, and next year’s 1000th anniversary of his victory over the Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf will be celebrated at the world’s largest Irish culture festival this week.

Members of the Clare Tourism Forum will tomorrow (Wednesday) travel to the United States to showcase Ireland’s Banner County and its links to the last undisputed High King of Ireland to an estimated 150,000 festivalgoers at the annual Milwaukee Irish Fest. The Forum is seeking to establish Brian Ború as the central theme of the 2014 Fest.

The Milwaukee Irish Fest, established in 1981 by members of Milwaukee’s Irish community, covers 74 acres of Lake Michigan’s shoreline and showcases Irish music, history, dance, drama, sports and culture. The Festival, which runs from August 15-18th, is also used by tourist agencies such as Fáilte Ireland and CIE Tours as an opportunity to market Ireland as a desirable tourist destination.

During the Milwaukee Irish Fest, the Clare tourism delegation will be located in the festival’s ‘Destinations Area’ where tens of thousands of promotional brochures on local tourist attractions will be distributed. Members of the tourist delegation will also deliver a series of public lectures on various aspects of Clare’s history, culture and heritage, as well as host a Brian Boru Tent in the ‘Cultural Pavilion.’ This year’s Milwaukee Fest also features a Hobbit Exhibit explaining how the topography of Clare’s Burren region influenced the J.R.R. Tolkien most famous books, ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’.

“We will be looking to capitalise on the 16% increase in North American visitors to Ireland during the first six months of this year by showcasing the County’s rich variety of tourism attractions, all made easily accessible due to the launch of a number of new and expansion of existing transatlantic services from Shannon Airport, including the restoration in early 2014 of year-round services between Chicago O’Hare and Shannon,” explained Donnagh Gregson, Chair of the Clare Tourism Forum.

Ms. Gregson added: “American visitors to Ireland have always been fascinated by the country’s rich heritage, including its folklore, history, archaeology, geology, genealogy, and natural and built heritage. In County Clare we are especially fortunate to have such world-renowned heritage sites as the Burren, Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty Castle, which we will be promoting amongst many other attractions. The Clare Tourism Forum has attended the Milwaukee Fest on seven previous occasions and has witnessed a boost to tourism at home as a result of the promotional work carried out during the course of the 4-day festival.”

Mayor of Clare, Cllr. Joe Arkins emphasised that Milwaukee Fest presents a valuable opportunity to showcase Clare’s close ties with Brian Ború, one of Clare and Ireland’s most significant historical figures.

“We are seeking to bring the story of Ború to a new audience in the hope of promoting some of the commemoration events taking place in County Clare next year,” explained the Mayor,

He added: “For almost 1,000 years Brian Ború has stood out as an Irish historical icon. Internationally Ború is celebrated for his unparalleled contribution to uniting Ireland and quelling the destabilising impact of the Vikings. Born in Killaloe in East Clare, Brian Ború would become the only undisputed High King of Ireland and occupies arguably the position of the most significant figure in Irish history. Plans have been mooted in relation to a Hollywood film adaptation of the novel ‘Freedom Within The Heart’, based on Brian Ború leading his people to freedom against the marauding Vikings.”

Mayor Arkins said that members of the travelling delegation are actively engaged with organising events commemorating the 1000th anniversary of Brian Ború’s death in 2014.

He added: “Over the coming days we will be encouraging festivalgoers to consider travelling to Ireland via Shannon Airport in 2014 to participate in these commemoration events and at the same time take in some of the many famous tourist attractions that Clare has to offer including the Loop Head Peninsula, Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty, the heritage town of Ennis and Lough Derg.”

The Clare Tourism Forum delegation will be accompanied in Wisconsin by a number of other local groups, including the Kincora Traditional Music Group, Clare Tourist Council, Genealogist Jane Halloran Ryan, Burren Smoke House, Old Ground Hotel, Kilrush Town Council, Long bow maker & re enactor Jack Pinson, and Historian Una Kierse.