2009 and its sea-changes have shaped the drive behind this year’s Roches Street Traders (RST) Festival and Art Competition. This, the ninth year of the September show and second of the children’s competition, was launched by the traders in Magner’s Pub on a sunny June evening.
Chaired by florist Dan Lawless, the solid bunch turned out to hear what’s fresh to festive ears: Milford Hospice is the sole nominated beneficiary for the first time, an auction of donated works is expected to raise thousands and a new shoppers’ website “is in its infancy”.
Hugh Lilburn, whose travel company JustSplit.com has opened at the former Executive Travel premises, was there with Stephen Ryan of Ryan’s Jewellers as were Therese and Gavin Barry of Dolly Boutique, Kristin Schnittger of King’s Shoes, Libby Hallissey of Helene Modes and Betty McDonagh’s whose shop, 78 years trading, was revealed as the scene of romance.
Dan Lawless explained the ‘divide to conquer’ strategy for spoils:
“Milford Hospice has always been one of our designated charities and we had always added on another. Dr Gupta of the regional hospital’s Oncology Unit told us our 5,000euro trained two nurses on a UK course and the Multiple Sclerosis Society made the point that we didn’t just raise money for the organisation, we raised its profile and dignity. There are benefits beyond cash”.
“We have a target to make as much last year when we raised the bones of 10,000euro, and if we achieve our target we’ll give Milford Hospice 5,000euro and perhaps the remainder to somebody else”.
His point is that the ‘take’ is expected to be down in this hungry era. Countering that is the hoped-for donation of 10 works by prominent local artists that will be auctioned over the September 7 to 19 dates of the festival: “All of that money will be donated to charity”.
Con Enright, chairman of the Friends of Milford, expressed real appreciation. “We are extremely pleased at the continued support of Roches Street Traders. Anyone coming to Milford can see huge improvements including a bigger restaurant for staff and visiting members, extra hospice beds, better office and administration facilities and home care and day care services. All of this was brought about largely by organised fundraising and that’s why we are so grateful”.
Jim O’Farrell, a teacher and artist based in Hospital, has been loyal to the festival since day one, showing his paintings of McDonagh’s Shop.
“I’ve a great love for and great affinity with Roches Street and my father met my mother here, at McDonagh’s. It’s a beautiful street to paint with lovely facades, great warmth and charm. I am delighted to be associated with this exhibition and it works as a fine template for us artists and our work. Everybody goes there”.
He forecast a day on which the artists would come out to paint on their easels, a sure thing to increase footfall and ultimately, spend on the 300+ works by the 70 artists participating. Charity has always received 25 per cent of the price and the artist 75 per cent; 100 per cent of the price of donated works is given over.
Children, note the August 22 deadline for work to be entered. The theme is “a Limerick scene as viewed from Roches Street” and you can ask any trader there for more details.