By Jim Smith
BOSTON – Last weekend’s 8th annual Irish Festival on the grounds of Stonehill College in North Easton came to a soggy and abrupt end Saturday afternoon when the Boston area was inundated with a record-breaking rainstorm.
Cars, two trucks, and a bus got stuck in the muddy 30 acres of fields at the festival site.
“It was an absolute disaster and a major disappointment for thousands of people,” said Ashling Fingleton of the Irish Cultural Center, which hosts the festival each year. “We had the largest crowd ever on Friday night. But when those heavy rains came on Saturday with the thunder and lightning, we had to close it down.”
This year’s festival was featuring more than 1,000 singers, musicians and dancers performing on 11 stages. Numerous groups promoting business and tourism, including several from Ireland, were forced to shut down and flee the area. Sunday’s events were also cancelled.
“Frank Patterson was into his third song on stage when the power went out,” Fingleton said. Other popular entertainers who were rained out included Frances Black, De Dannan, Aoife, Maire Brennan of Clannad, Paddy Reilly, Christina Harrison, and Deirdre Reilly.
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“Obviously we took a big financial hit,” Fingleton said. “Most of the performers had booked this event a year ago, and some had come from overseas.
Festival organizers are now scurrying to make arrangements for a two-day festival next month the will bring together some of the same performers. The festival is set for July 18 and 19.
Saturday’s rainfall amount of 5.69 inches broke the previous one-day June record of 5.35 inches, which was set in 1875.