THROUGH the years Ireland has gained world-wide recognition for its many festivities and events. While all festivals have similar features which give a consistency to their international appeal, each is tailored to the needs of its area, as is the Ballybunion International Bachelor Festival.
This event, staged in June each year, has, since its small beginnings in 1970, grown so popular that it is now placed above other events on the Irish festivals calendar.
Its success can be attributed to the market-mindedness, imaginative planning and the meticulous selection of the programme by both the festival committee and the people of Ballybunion, North Kerry. Its uniqueness as the only bachelor festival in the world has also helped.
The week-long festival was founded to counter the blow dealt to tourism by the Northern Ireland troubles. Its main purpose is to provide fun, glamour, friendliness and general entertainment.
All ages and tastes are catered for, From donkey derbys, pram races, egg and spoon races to skydiving, cliff climbing displays, dog shows, cabaret and concerts by leading artists. There is golf on Ballybunion's internationally renowned 18-hole links. And there
are golden beaches to laze on.
Bachelors themselves, of course, are treated to a free all-expenses paid holiday in Ballybunion. All that is expected of them is that they enjoy themselves thoroughly.
With prizes totalling £1,000 at stake, the procedure for selecting the bachelors is rigorous. Starting in February. dances are held in major cities and towns, and contestants are invited to be judged. Functions are also held in England, Scotland and America (last year bachelors represented not only various Irish counties, but also London, Birmingham, Huddersfield, Coventry, Scotland, New York, Boston and Alaska).
interviews are conducted by judges nominated by the festival committee. Requirements for a potential candidate: Maturity; pleasant and outgoing personality; good general appearance; good outlook on life; and work, hobbies etc.
Bachelors selected at competitions go forward to the final in Ballybunion. On the first Saturday of festival week the bachelors are introduced to the thousands of visitors, All the suspense and excitement, and indeed the week's revelries, culminate with the gala night — the picking of the international bachelor. The event is compered by a top television personality. The winner receives a cash prize ef i500 plus clothes.