Emmet Condon is the Creative Director of much-loved festival Another Love Story, which he runs with Peter O'Brien (Happenings) and Sam Bishop (Street Feast) and is hosted annually in the beautiful surrounds of Killyon Manor, Co. Meath.
Like many festivals this summer, Another Love Story has fallen victim to the complications of COVID 19 and while the organisers are already planning ahead to 2021, a summer free of festivals has a strange feel to it.
This weekend (August 14th - 16th), ALS present It Just Wasn't Meant To Be, an online weekender from Killyon Manor featuring a number of choice musical acts. Emmet writes for Culture below...
As we have rounded the corner of the drawn out winter of our COVID spring, it is hard to believe that months which suddenly stretch out before us will not be punctuated by the familiar heave and flow of festival season.
For the past decade or more, my summers, and those of so many friends’ and colleagues, have been marked by a series of well worn pilgrimages to a succession of fields and wooded glades across the land, as the various mis matched souls who apply themselves to this beautiful struggle convine to spend their summer busy in the business of creating magic.
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Each passing season adds to a growing familiarity of steady rhythms of long days and endless nights, office hours mixed with fearfully focused wanderings amongst the trees and lingering summer light, as we criss cross the sacred ground of places like Ballinlough, Stradbally, and of course, our own beloved Killyon Manor, heavily laden with our seasonal load of purpose and hope.
Not getting to feel that unity of purpose between our crew, and not getting to feel the rush of seeing our dreams played out in wide-eyed real-time in front of us is going to leave a huge gap in my heart this summer.
Coming from a farming and family business background, and somehow catching a relentless music bug at an early age - festival work has strangely married the very best of all of those disciplines. Outdoor work, creativity, community, work and social life intertwined, and of course - the tip of the iceberg - the show itself - that briefest flash of golden light which occurs literally a split second after the the many facets of the outrageous mandela of work somehow all comes together, and then vanishes into thin air.
In that flash is contained a thousand moments in the lives of thousand’s - a microcosm of all that is good in the world - music, beauty, joy, sadness (sometimes), sun and (often) rain, the deafiening hubbub, and serene moments of stolen quiet.
Festivals have occurred as ritual for thousands of years, they act as a societal release, as creative crossroads and platforms.. These, and a million other reasons great and indifferent, make them hugely significant markers in so many people’s lives - friendships are forged, lovers and life long loves are encountered for the first time, experiences and kindnesses are shared as whole shimmering constellations of humanity stream together for a few disparate days, and diverge carrying a little of the collective stardust that they left floating amongst the trees...
Yet somehow in the modern commercialised, and often over-hyped version, it is often easy to forget their most primal function - simply to gather people together. In this time of COVID, this very basic freedom has been stripped away from us, and now, as it is being roughly re programmed into our collective lexicon as an overtly conscious construct I am so aware of the loss of these crucial and beautiful meetings of minds and souls in the months ahead.
It is hard to believe that months which suddenly stretch out before us will not be punctuated by the familiar heave and flow of festival season.
Another Love Story was born out of the simple notion that there was a softer and more personal way of creating a festival experience. None of us were festival professionals at the outset, but we shared a love of a party, and a genuine belief in community. Six years later, the unique blend of characters that flock around the flame of our small gathering to shape it each year have gently moulded the grounds and walls of our cherished manor home into a place of magic and wonder of a very particular hue. We have worked so hard to keep the warm heart of the thing front and center, and we are proud of the small independent hilltop we occupy within the broad atlas of Ireland’s festival geography.
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Not getting to feel that unity of purpose between our crew, and not getting to feel the rush of seeing our dreams played out in wide-eyed real-time in front of us is going to leave a huge gap in my heart this summer, but, having (mostly) accepted our fate for this year, we are thankful for all the many years of joy we have had to this point, and we have fixed our beady eyes on the summer of 2021 with renewed vigour.
We carry some of that stardust from previous editions with us as we venture forward into this new reality, bowed, but certainly not broken.
Love wins out.
Another Love Story will return to Killyon Manor in 2021. It Just Wasn't Meant To Be runs online from August 14th - 16th - find out more here.
Photos: Ste Murray