Memories of the Festival by Mick Higgins one of the founding members of the Coillte Come Home Festival
The Coillte Come Home festival started in 1968 and was basically the idea of the Kilimagh GAA Club who were trying to raise funds at the time for the development of a new pitch. We decided to book McFadden’s Amusements and set them up in Alt Walsh’s field behind Supervalu. We met up with a few other people like the late Jerry Walsh, Raftery Rooms, and John Roynane from the Westway Hotel and decided to develop a festival in conjunction with the amusements.
The ballroom at the time was owned by Associated Ballrooms and they agreed to give us a percentage of the profits from dances run during the festival. So we proceeded along those lines and it was an absolutely unbelievable success. The town was packed every night of the week – in fact it was actually 11 days – so it was a great success financially for the GAA club and obviously for the local pubs and businesses.
The name of the Festival originally came from John Roynane, he said there were so many Kiltimagh people abroad we should try and get them home. The name we had decided on was Culchie Come Home but Jerry Walsh objected strongly to the word Culchie saying it was a very derogatory description of Kiltimagh people so we went with the spelling of Coillte instead.
The following year in 1969 the GAA club decided that it had gone too big for them and that there would have to be more local involvement, particularly from the business people. Again we called several meetings and there was a great response. We did a collection in the town that was well supported by the business people, particularly the publicans. From that point it went on from year to year until 1974 which was the last of the big Coillte Come Home Festivals.