The Foynes Irish Coffee Festival took place this June bank holiday in wonderful summer weather with thousands of people enjoying the free family entertainment all around the village. This year is a special year for Irish Coffee as it celebrates its 70th birthday – first invented by Chef Joe Sheridan in October 1943. A special Gathering Event will take place in October to celebrate its birthday.

The highlight of the festival was the Powers Irish Coffee Making Championship where three finalists competed for the prestigious title 2013 Powers Irish Coffee Making Champion. So over the past few months heats have taken place around the country to find our finalists. This year the three finalists are as follows:

Colm Whelan, representing The House Hotel, Galway.

Abdullah Al-Shmmasnh representing Fitzgeralds Vienna Woods Hotel, Cork

Micheal Griffiths representing The Beacon Hotel, Dublin.

After a very close competition Colm Whelan, representing the House Hotel, Galway, was announced as the 2013 Powers Irish Coffee Making Champion.

Colm works in the bar in the House Hotel. He is a student of media and Cultural Studies at NUIG and is doing his PhD. Originally from Dundrum in Dublin, he moved to Galway two years ago. He is also taking part in the Olympic Weight Lifting Competition next week in Belfast. He was cheered on by his parents Mary andTommy Whelan and his partner, Rachel Corr.

He received a Crystal Trophy, a cheque for €500, two return tickets from Shannon/Dublin to New York with United Airlines, and a Bewleys Hamper.

MC for the night was the wonderful and talented comedian Alan Shortt, who brought along his good friends, our President Michael D Higgins and, of course, our local Minister Michael Noonan to entertain the guests.

The festival kicked off with Hermitage Green on Festival Stage, on Saturday the Children’s Fancy Dress in the Coillte Woods attracted over 300 children .

Large crowds attended the Festival Parade on Saturday night. The Village, with their entry ‘Only Fools Eat Horses’ were the winners, and the first visit ever to Foynes by Macnas, with their Cockroach and The Inventor Show, was another great hit. Everyone knows about our Spectacular Fireworks Display over the River and each year Foynes sees traffic jams on the night; with a balmy night this was the most spectacular show we have ever had and one of the largest crowds ever .

On Sunday there was an abundance of free entertainment all day long for every age group. We had our first ever 5K Run in aid of TLC 4 CF, a Food and Craft Fair, a Ceilí Mór with Taylor’s Cross Ceilí Band, and the weather was just perfect to sit outside and enjoy.

The Irish Naval Service Flagship, LE Aoife, saw 1,400 visitors pass through in just one day, proving to be another great attraction.

The Gala night was attended by Minister of State, Mr Paul Kehoe TD, Government Chief Whip, who paid a courtesy call to the LE Aoife earlier in the day, and by Patrick O’Donovan TD.

The organisers are delighted with the overall weekend and will shortly start on the Gathering Event for October.