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Published on June 26th, 2011 | by Sinead Keogh


Festival Review: Temple House Music & Arts

Come this way...

And let us tell you a story of….

Mad Hatters

Wood Carvings


A place so magical they knit covers for the trees to keep them warm

Two weeks back we were lucky enough to find ourselves in Sligo for the Temple House Music and Arts Festival. Arriving at the campsite just after 9pm (it was all of a ten minute walk from the carpark, Oxegen take note) we were spoiled for choice when picking a spot to set up home despite the late hour. Carrying a tent and enough canned goods to feed a family of twenty (Kopparberg is a canned good, yes?) we picked the point that was the shortest walk away and set down the gear. The neighbours were straight over to say hello, share their beers and give a hand and immediately we liked the place, commenting there would’ve been about 20 tents crammed into the same size space at a bigger festival.


Super manly tent erection by Darren

Tent up, we somehow forgot to make our way to the main arena and instead had some drinks in our luxurious two bed with reception room and got altogether very into commenting on how gorgeous the mist coming up over the fields was.



Not noticing how late it had got until we heard the last strains of Ash carrying down to the campsite from the main arena, we wandered up in time to bump into one of the neighbours (our tent was Number 1, theirs was Number 2) and procure steak sandwiches from the Argentinian grill before turning in early and discovering that the mist and fog, gorgeous as they were, made for the coldest night ever.

After seven hours of shivering, Saturday dawned bright and clear and we had breakfast on the campsite at Gallagher’s before walking back to the car to pick up the camera and hitting the arts trail.

Delights including the Mad Hatter, pictured earlier, woodcarvings, yarnbombing, an entire medieval village with people dressed in character, archery, children’s activities and storytellers.


In what I came to call the ‘nest stage’, there was singing and storytelling while passers-by stopped to knit tree coverings.

But the stand-out star of the trail for me were the poetry boxes. Each one had a poem written on the outside and when you poked your head inside, something to represent it visually, or, in one box, with an amazing scent of oranges and lemons that made you want to stand there all day.


On the music side of things, our first act of the day were Kerbdog on the main stage. Boisterous and loud with a big rock sound, they were heard to comment during their sound check that there wasn’t ‘much left on the dial’ and sure enough they were  a welcome explosion of sound to get the heart rate up after a morning on the arts trail.



From there we wandered back to the the Bandwagon TV stage in the Rose Garden and stumbled on Henrietta Game’s set. Lively and popping with musical talent,  they had the crowd on their feet and ready for a party. A four-piece setup incorporating a cellist (Aonghus) and Judy MacNamara on glockenspiel (Darren says it was a box organ, but Darren also said ‘Henry’s Game’….remember that’ when they said their name, so who do you believe?) the sound is a bit pop ceili, if there is such a thing, and they remained my pick of the festival another dozen acts later on Monday morning.


Henrietta Game

We missed, but heard great reports of Miracle Bell and Rory and the  Island but did make it to Declan O’Rourke. I left after ten minutes because the bloke beside me was setting my arm on fire with his cigarette ash and the bloke in front kept decking me with his backpack every time he moved. Darren caught and loved the whole gig.


Declan O'Rourke

After a thorough giving out to from our campsite neighbour Pat for missing Stereo MCs, our last act of Saturday night was the late set by The Amazing Few on the main stage. Zany, without category and a whole lot of fun, they were well into their audience interaction with beach balls bouncing across the crowd, 3D glasses handed out creating an absolute head-fuck of a lights show and instructions shouted out including ‘kiss the person beside you’ (maybe we did, maybe we didn’t…). We don’t know where they came out of or what their game is, but we liked them very much.

The Amazing Few

Though Sunday, our last day of festivalling, was beset by relentless rain, we still managed to make our way to Lisa Hannigan (stunning from start to finish), Storyfold (The Battle didn’t disappoint), Something Happens (still full of energy and with a chatty, crowd-pleasing frontman in Tom Dunne) and Aslan (fine, we ate burgers outside the tent, but it counts) before rounding off with Bipolar Empire on the Musicmaker Stage. Ripping through an up-tempo, on-form set to the tune of lots of screaming girls, we exited Temple House Festival to the sound of Feel That You Own It and made for home.

If it sounds like the praise is fulsome then that’s because the craic was mighty. Unable to fault the gang behind Temple House on their setup (everything is within a short walk and by everything we mean EVERYTHING from arena to campsite to the walled garden children’s activities, Giglocker (hair straightening facilities and all if you can’t be without) and even the ‘Country Shop’ selling everything from disposable barbeques and sausages to grapes and plasters) or their line up (both the arts trail and the stages were bursting with activity) our only real gripes were the things that will be ironed out festival-by-festival. On Sunday night we had a dodgy time leaving the waterlogged car park; we noted across the few days that it would have been deadly if the stage times were posted around the campsite as well as on the way up to the main arena but that said it’s a boutique festival and we liked the bits of homeliness in place of sleek laminated timetables on lanyards. Highly recommended for families in particular, we’ll be hitting Ballymote again next year. Sligo, thanks for having us.

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About the Author

Sinéad edits books for her real job. She has never met a punctuation mark she didn't like. She likes cheese (both kinds). She is a lip-biter and a knuckle cracker. She has made a list of 50 things to do before she dies - you're not on it. In particular, she looks after movies, comedy gigs and the Event of the Week series for Culch. You can email her if you want, she loves attention. sinead@culch.ie

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