The Trip To Tipp

‘Féile was special, it was iconic, it was our Woodstock’

It was the year that Nelson Mandela was released from prison, Germany was reunified after the fall of the Berlin Wall and a computer whizz called Tim Berners-Lee was registering something new called the World Wide Web.

It was also the year that changed everything when it came to live music and festivals in Ireland. It was 1990 when Féile first got under way and the Irish summer would never be the same.

Féile ushered in the idea of seeing multiple acts over the course of a weekend. It created the notion of a destination event – one that you wanted to attend before you even knew who was on the line-up – and it sowed the seeds for the likes of current Irish music festivals including Electric Picnic and Longitude. 

Bring your own tent and find hygiene where you can. Féile was different and for an entire generation, the words ‘Trip to Tipp’ would be forever etched into their memories. 


Changing Times

Féile was originally proposed as a means of paying back the €1 million plus cost of upgrading Semple Stadium in Thurles, Co Tipperary, to accommodate the 1984 Centenary All-Ireland Hurling Final.

The church didn’t like it, the local Gaelic sportsmen didn’t like it, the young farmers didn’t like it, and if this had been 1950s Ireland, the whole idea would have been shelved. However, it was 1990, and the country was changing.

The Tipperary County Board GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) felt brave enough to proceed with the weekend-long music festival in Semple Stadium.

Such was the success of the first Trip to Tipp that artists from all over the world – including INXS, Iggy Pop, Simply Red, Nanci Griffith, Bryan Adams, The Cranberries, Elvis Costello and Bjork – were clamouring to play Thurles. It seemed, for a time, that Féile might become Europe’s top music event. 

However, Tipperary County Board decided not to continue as a concert promoter and, in 1995, Féile moved to Cork – but it wasn’t quite the same. 

After a final one-day Thurles concert in 1997, the event dropped from the musical calendar altogether. It looked like the Trip to Tipp, after an all-too-brief moment in the sun, was gone forever.


Féile Revival

Fast forward 21 years…  

Tom Dunne, broadcaster and frontman of Irish rock band Something Happens, who played the very first Féile in 1990, was invited to organise and curate a one-off one-day revival of the festival, under the name Féile Classical, in the Semple Stadium in September 2018. 

He brought together a selection of Irish acts from the 1990s glory days, with The Stunning, Hothouse Flowers, An Emotional Fish, The 4 of Us, and The Frank and Walters, all taking to the stage. Dunne said: “Féile was special, it was iconic, it was our Woodstock and Féile Classical will be an even bigger, better, louder explosion of the best of those days and so much more.”

The event was very different to the Trip To Tipp of the ’90s – fully seated, with luxuries like a choice of clean toilets, gourmet vegan food stalls, and a selection of pop-up gin and Prosecco bars – a far cry from ham sandwiches and slabs of beer from the local convenience store. What it shared was its success and the obvious love from its audience.

So much so that it’s back in 2019. No longer a one-day event called Féile Classical, now it’s the Tipp Classical 2019 weekend (September 20/21) – which might as well be the Trip to Tipp, or close enough for jazz, in any case. 

The line-up includes The Stunning, The Sultans of Ping, The Frank and Walters, Therapy? and Wendy James of Transvision Vamp. As Dunne said: “The Trip to Tipp is back and it needs to stay.”


Festival line-up

The Tipp Classical 2019 weekend is just one of many excellent festivals and events to be enjoyed throughout Tipperary. 

The Clonmel Junction Festival (3-9 July) features an exciting new cabaret venue, some pop-up art installations in the heart of the town, a host of music and theatre shows, and lots of ways to get involved either as a spectator or performer.

There’s fun and nostalgia aplenty at It’s a Long Way To Tipperary (14-15 July), during which Tipperary town is transported back to the 19th Century through a mix of beautiful vintage cars and clothing, horses and carts, and traditional music, song and dance.

The Cashel Arts Festival (19-22 September) uses the town’s heritage sites, including the ancient and iconic Rock of Cashel, as dramatic backdrops to a fine selection of contemporary arts events. Take your pick from music, dance, visual arts, film, theatre, workshops, family events and literature events. 

Some of Ireland’s best amateur musical theatre groups are showcased at the Carrick Music Theatre Festival in Carrick-on-Suir (4-6 November), while Clonmel Applefest (27-29 September) brings the town’s medieval heart to life with a celebration of its industrial and agricultural heritage. Enjoy a wide range of events around all things apple, food and biodiversity – including craft activities, apple pressing, delicious local foods, storytelling, talks and walks, tastings and a community street feast.

Also celebrating the bounty of Tipperary’s rich and fertile lands is A Taste of Lough Derg, a series of food events around the towns and villages of the Lough Derg Lakelands running from June to September.

Click here for more information about What’s on in Tipperary.


Quest Lough Derg – what’s it all about?

A new event comes to the shores of Lough Derg this September 14th. Quest adventure races involve running, cycling and kayak across various distances. The beauty of the events is that it’s not just for hardened athletes, people with a relative level of fitness will be able to take on this challenge too.

This exciting, brand-new event will see more than 1500 participants start and finish their event in Ballina and run, cycle and kayak their way around Lough Derg taking in locations like Tountinne, Garrykennedy, Ballycuggaran and Moylussa.

There will be three routes to choose from for participants, the 22km ‘Challenge’ route, the 57km ‘Sport’ route and the 69km ‘Expert’ route. There’s one to suit all levels of ability – by way of a guide for those new to the sport, the level of fitness required to compete in the ‘Challenge’ is similar required to run a 10km race.

Quest are working with support from Clare County Council, Tipperary County Council and Lough Derg Marketing Group to bring this high-profile event to the area. Quest has four other events in Ireland including Quest Kenmare and Quest Glendalough which were completely sold-out earlier this year.

For anyone new to the sport, Quest have lots of advice on their website and next week are running a specially tailored campaign for newbies called ‘Rookie Week’. They’ll be sharing lots of content on their social media and website to help people get started in adventure racing. But be warned, many of those who have done similar events in the past say once you do one, you’ll be hooked! All participants receive a really cool event medal and top in addition to the great sense of achievement. Be sure to check out this new event which is sure to have the area hopping.

Suir Blueway Tipperary

  • Official launch of 53km of walking, cycling and watersports trails
  • Over €5.6 million invested by Tipperary County Council
  • New recreational resource for tourists and local communities

Tipperary County Council has officially unveiled Suir Blueway Tipperary – the culmination of nearly seven years of planning and implementation and has seen an investment of more than €5.6m to develop the 53km tourism route and local amenity for the county.

The Blueway was officially opened by John Treacy, Chief Executive, Sport Ireland in the presence of the Elected Members of Tipperary County Council including Councillor Michael Murphy, Leas Cathaoirleach, Tipperary County Council, Councillor Richie Molloy, Mayor of Clonmel Borough District, Councillor Louise McLoughlin Cathaoirleach of Carrick on Suir Municipal District and Joe MacGrath, Chief Executive, Tipperary County Council.

Leas Cathaoirleach of Tipperary County Council, Councillor Michael Murphy said: “Tipperary County Council and Tipperary Sports Partnership have been working on this project since 2012. We are very excited to see this now come to fruition and to see our investment in our latest tourism offering come to life. Tourism is a substantial growth area for County Tipperary. We have so much to offer in terms of beautiful landscapes, fascinating cultural and historical sites and stories, and some of the best food produce in Ireland. Suir Blueway Tipperary has high potential to increase the numbers of visitors and economic opportunities along the entire route from Cahir to Clonmel to Carrick-on-Suir, as well as in other local communities. Already, one new business has opened as a result of the new Blueway and the council looks forward to welcoming and supporting more new businesses in the coming months and years.

Refurbished pathways and multiple new access points to make it easier to get on to the river have been created in several places along the 53km route. These include at Inch Field in Cahir; in Ardfinnan, Sandybanks at Marlfield; Suir Island in Clonmel; Denis Burke Park in Clonmel; Kilsheelan, and Sean Healy Park in Carrick-on-Suir. New Blueway map boards and signage has been developed and erected to guide and improve visitor experiences.

Visitors can experience engaging tours of the world-renowned Cahir Castle before strolling down to the Swiss Cottage as paddle boarders and canoeists pass by on their way along 53km of river trails, passing through picturesque villages and towns as they follow the meandering river to the historic town of Clonmel and onwards to Carrick-on-Suir. Walkers and cyclists can enjoy beautiful scenery as they follow the river for 21km along the refurbished historic towpath from the Monument Car Park in Clonmel to Sean Healy Park in Carrick-on-Suir.

Accomplished paddlers can take on the challenge of the 300-metre whitewater Canoe Slalom Course in Clonmel, which was constructed in 2016 as part of the investment in the project. The longest slalom course in Ireland offers a unique sporting and leisure opportunity for both local users and visitors and is used by Canoeing Ireland as a training base for the Irish national squad.

The Blueway is expected to contribute to increased visitor numbers and spend in the area. According to Waterways Ireland, almost one in five waterways users are overseas visitors, half (49%) are domestic and 1 in 3 (34% ) are local visitors.

Chief Executive of Tipperary County Council, Joe MacGrath, expressed “thanks to the Elected Members of Tipperary County Council and all the state agencies that have helped make Suir Blueway Tipperary possible. Funding for the project came from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Tipperary County Council, Sport Ireland, Interreg and the Department of Rural and Community Development. Without their support, this project would not have gotten off the ground. We will be continuing to invest and improve the facilities along the river and look forward to welcoming more overseas and domestic visitors to this wonderful experience as a new product in Tipperary, Munster Vales and Irelands Ancient East.”

To date, a number of activities have taken place on the new Blueway route, including the National Canoe Slalom events and National Club Canoeing Championships, the PaddleUp Programme, the Suir Descent, Kayaking Camps, Canoeing Training & Education Courses, 10km walks, heritage walks, cycling tours from Castle to Castle, and Triathlon Events.

To find out more, follow Tipperary Tourism and Tipperary Sports Partnership on social media using the tags #SuirBluewayTipperary and #VisitTipperary.