- Moville, Co. Donegal, Ireland
caught up with Gerry McLaughlin, who runs the only annual
Beatles festival to take place in Ireland. A mixture of
Beatles tribute acts and covers bands, special guests and
other Beatles-related festivities, the BeatlesFest event takes place at
Moville in the beautiful countryside of Donegal.
BeatlesFest is quickly growing in reputation and stature as a
major Beatles event, as can be witnessed by the calibre of
acts and guests it attracts. The combination of great
location, terrific atmosphere and hospitality and Beatles
music is proving a winner.
Please tell us a bit about your background and the background
to the BeatlesFest.
Gerry: I’ve been a Beatles Fan since She Loves You forced
itself into my consciousness and demanded to be heard. In 2007
I started a DylanFest in Moville, Donegal, where I live. As
that was successful I thought we would go for a BeatlesFest
too. I Googled ‘Beatles Festival Ireland’ to get help and
advice from anyone who had run one before and discovered that
there weren’t any – and that I would have to do it on my
own. However, it turned out great and we had Henry McCullough
of Wings over to play at the first one. We’ve been running
it every year since and this year was the biggest yet when we
had bands from Merseyside and Glasgow over to play.
and why did the festival choose the Moville venue?
Gerry: I chose Moville in County Donegal because I live there.
It is also a great location for a themed festival. It is
one of those scenic towns where the houses are all painted
different colours and it is situated in the countryside on a
salmon fishing sea lough. It has the great advantage that all
the pubs are either on the main square or on one of the roads
leading off the square which means that Beatles fans can go
and sample all the acts before deciding where they will stay
for the night.
This is the biggest Beatles event in Ireland. How have you
seen it develop since you first started and how big is the
passion for The Beatles there?
Gerry: This was the fifth year of the festival and it has grown
every year. The BeatlesFest takes over the whole town for four
days every summer. There’s music in the pubs during the day.
And also at the White Wall in scenic Bath Green overlooking
Lough Foyle where families bring picnics and listen to Beatles
music. In the evenings, there is music in the streets and main
square and then it’s off to the pubs which have late
licences till 2:30am to hear the different Beatles acts.
In 2012, the event coincides with the Clipper Race. What are
your plans to take advantage of that?
Gerry: In 2012 the Round-the-Word Clipper race, which started
in July 2011, will reach Derry which is just up Lough Foyle
from Moville. The end of the third last leg and start of the
second last leg on July 8th will actually take place 3 miles away
from Moville In Greencastle. So we have lots of events planned
for it as 150,000 spectators are expected for it and 250
spectator yachts. Whether we put the entire Beatles festival
on that weekend or the weekend before when the yachts are
arriving or we just have samples of our BeatlesFest hasn’t
been decided yet. But is an excellent opportunity to
showcase Moville and the surrounding area and the events it
do you think retro and sixties music is so enduringly popular?
Gerry: All forms of art have their golden eras. You can think
of the Impressionist Painters and the Lakeland Poets. They
tend to come in clusters as they inspire each other. The
sixties was the golden era for popular music when The Beatles,
Dylan, The Rolling Stones etc. influenced each other and inspired
each other to greater heights. The music endures to this day
and is still very popular with younger people. Most acts that
play the pubs in Moville throughout the year play Beatles
songs and most of them will play Dylan too.
From how far do bands and visitors come to the event?
Gerry: This year we had two acts from Merseyside and two
from Glasgow for BeatlesFest on the Lough 2011. We had The
Cavernites, who regularly play the Cavern, over from Merseyside.
We also had Neil Tudor, a Paul McCartney look-alike and
soundalike who has acted as a double for Paul McCartney in pop
videos and was hired by him one time to play at a party for
his keyboard player. Paul couldn’t attend himself but he
told him later on the set of one of his pop videos that quite
a few people that he knew thought it was really him and
admonished him for blanking them that night.
We also had two bands from Glasgow, firstly Candlestick Park
who have played at the Liverpool Beatles festival and also the
biggest Beatles festival in the world, Abbey Road on the River
in Kentucky and Washington DC. Whereas The Cavernites played
mainly early Beatles stuff, Candlestick Park played mainly the
later songs so it worked pretty well. We also had an up-and-coming band of 15-year-olds over from Glasgow, called The
Modests, who have played all the main venues there. The best
night was in the Bar-a-Cuda when the Cavernites opened
followed by Candlestick Park and then The Modests came back
from another gig to do an impromptu gig in the Bar-a-Cuda
We had a great stroke of luck last year when Beatles Road
manager Tony Bramwell got in touch with us and asked if we
wanted him to come along. Tony’s made a lot of friends in
Moville and came back again both for this year’s BeatlesFest
and this year’s DylanFest. Tony gave talks about the Beatles,
answered questions and showed some of his films from the
Beatles days. He loves his Guinness and likes nothing more
than to sit outside Rosatos chatting to Beatles fans and
sipping his pint. Last year he got a text from Paul McCartney
while sitting there telling him that they were ‘both in the
papers’ and telling him to buy the Daily Mail where he had
been quoted. Tony texted him back later with a picture of a
pint of Guinness and the Toucan symbol. Paul texted him back
calling him a lucky so-and-so.
Tony was not only the Beatles Road manager but Brian
Epstein’s talent scout, discovering James Taylor and putting
on Jimi Hendrix’s first ever major gig at the Saville
Theatre in Piccadilly which Brian owned. He was also head of
Apple films and has an award from MTV for being a pioneer in
pop videos. Later on he was head of Polydor Records with the
Bee Gees, The Jam, Roxy Music and Slade in his stable and
discovered Eva Cassidy. He is looking forward to meeting old
friends and mingling at the 2012 BeatlesFest on the Lough.
As regards visitors we get them from all over the world.
What can people typically expect at the BeatlesFest in terms
of events, bands and experiences?
Gerry: It’s an event for all the family as it is both indoor
and outdoor and is multi-venue. Moville’s a great little
town and excellently situated. The people are very friendly
and welcoming and lots of people who come here for the first
time for a BeatlesFest or DylanFest come back again at other
times of the year. Of course we have some visitors who come
back to the BeatlesFest every year and it’s almost like an
annual reunion meeting all those regulars again. If you enjoy
the craic there’s great fun in the pubs especially at night.
One of the venues is Rosatos, which won the Sunday World’s
Irish Pub of the Year 2010 – and the judges weren’t even
there during the BeatlesFest.
Is accommodation available for people coming from further
Gerry: There is plenty of accommodation available in
hotels, B&B, self catering, hostel and camping. It can be
found here - http://www.craicon.com/moville/1/where-to-stay.shtml
There’s plenty of other things to do as well such as
kayaking, golf, pitch and putt, horse riding etc.
What are your plans for the future of the BeatlesFest Gerry?
Gerry: We want it to grow and grow getting bigger and better
acts every year. There are two opportunities to really grow it
quickly in the next two years. Firstly there is the Clipper
race next year . And then the following year L/Derry, which is
just 18 miles up the Lough will be the UK City of Culture 2013
and is expected to attract lots of different events and more
than 2 million extra visitors. Many of those will be Beatles
fans and the organisers of the Derry City of Culture have
asked if we can have a joint BeatlesFest with them that year,
perhaps even with Paul McCartney as the centrepiece of it. Now
that would be something.
information on the event
can be found at the Craicon website: