by Paul Murphy
Community and business leaders in Athboy have warmly welcomed the decision by the Blue Jean Country Queen Festival committee to overturn a decision to move the event to Navan and instead keep it in its home base.
The decision had already been made to transfer the June bank holiday festival to Navan but a dramatic intervention by the Athboy Credit Union board of directors at an emergency meeting last Saturday to come on board as main sponsors of the festival for the next three years led to a u-turn by the Macra na Feirme organising committee.
The credit union move, along with pledges of support from other sponsors, followed strong reaction to last week’s Meath Chronicle story about the threatened transfer of the Blue Jean Festival to Navan.
Although the Macra committee had heard strong arguments in favour of the switch to Navan, based partly on falling fee-paying revenue to festival events, its members went along with the groundswell of support for the retention of the festival in Athboy, where it has been based for 27 years.
In a statement on the controversy, festival secretary Siobhan Kearney said that following the outpouring of support from the community and local businesses of Athboy, Macra had confirmed the return of the 2015 festival to the town.
“Thanks to the generous support of Athboy Credit Union, who have agreed to a three-year sponsorship deal, the future of the Macra na Feirme festival has been secured all the way up to its 30th anniversary. Athboy Credit Union with its community ethos is a perfect fit for the Blue Jean Country Queen Festival which draws Macra members from throughout the country to the community of Athboy each June bank holiday weekend,” she said. Also joining Athboy Credit Union in pledging support for the festival for the next three years is independent county councillor David Gilroy and EPM Contracting Ltd. “This, along with the continued support of the Darnley Lodge Hotel, Athboy traders, existing sponsors, and the community of Athboy, ensures that this year’s festival will be better than ever,” Ms Kearney predicted.
* Further coverage in this week's Meath Chronicle.