What is Killarney Mountain Festival?

By Sinead O’Mahony Killarney Mountain Festival began, as all great festivals do, as an idea among a small group of people who are passionate about something. In this case, that something is Killarney town and the magical experiences that it has to offer. The people of Killarney are proud of where they come from, and creating a festival that would celebrate the breathtaking beauty of the natural resources we have seemed like the perfect way to showcase that pride and to create a unique identity for the town, as well as to nurture that same sense of pride of place amongst the people of Killarney.  What started as a vision became a reality this year, when the inaugural Killarney Mountain Festival took place from the 9th to the 11th of March.  

Basecamp at Killarney Mountain Festival. Photo: Sinead O’Mahony

  The objectives of the festival were simple from the outset. In the academic literature focusing on event management, the most crucial component when producing a new festival  is to have a clear objective from the very beginning. Each stage from then on is influenced greatly by the objective set out at the start. It’s also suggested that the success of any event or festival should be measured along three parameters; the social impacts it has on the place, the people involved and the attendees; the economic impacts it delivers, and the environmental impacts of the event or festival during and after it takes place. These three parameters combined are known as the ‘Triple Bottom Line.’  

Walking on Carrauntoohil. Photo: Ireland’s Content Pool

  Within any of these parameters, an event or festival can have positive or negative impacts. In economic terms, we wanted to develop an event in the town that would help local businesses by attracting visitors to Killarney slightly earlier in the season.  Killarney luckily experiences an excellent summer season, but businesses can struggle during the winter months and attempting to open the season slightly earlier in the Spring would support the local economy. Socially, we wanted to develop local people’s sense of place and create a unique event that would celebrate the nature around us, instilling a sense of pride and identity among local people relating to where they come from, both young and old. A place-making celebration would also promote social cohesion, bringing together local people as well as those who are new to Killarney. Killarney Mountain Festival would be an opportunity for such groups to gather together and celebrate the place in which they live.

Photography Exhibition at Killarney Mountain Festival. Photo: Sinead O’Mahony

Finally, we saw the festival as an opportunity to promote the importance of our natural resources and more importantly, our duty to protect our environment. We wanted to place an emphasis on recycling, re-using and reducing waste and we decided that we would do our best to incorporate events that would potentially raise people’s awareness about the importance of protecting the environment, within the festival programme. On post-event reflection, taking these three parameters into consideration, we believe that we managed to develop a festival that had strong positive social, environmental and economic impacts in its inaugural year. As a committee, we strongly feel that the festival has the potential to deliver greater positive impacts year on year and to eventually have a lasting legacy on the town and its people. Killarney Mountain Festival has rooted itself in its first year as not just festival that celebrates Killarney and its wonderful landscapes, but one that has to potential to educate and create lasting positive impacts on our town, the people that call Killarney home as well as those who come from far and near to visit those Mountains we love so much!    

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