The Manor House pub to stage Otley’s first ever Mayo Day Festival

Posted in Connect on April 29, 2015.


The Manor House pub in Otley will be the place to be this bank holiday weekend as the West Yorkshire pub brings a touch of Irish tradition to the town. The pub, which is run by Irish husband and wife David and Eileen Stephan is hosting the town’s first ever Mayo Day Festival, which takes place on Saturday 2nd May.david-and-eileen

David and Eileen Stephan is hosting the town’s first ever Mayo Day Festival

Otley is strongly connected with Mayo, with most people of Irish descent in the town having come from the county at the time of an Gorta Mór, the Great Famine, with most people coming from Ballina and Kiltimagh. Thomas Constable, an Otley solicitor, who save hundreds of lives by arranging passage, jobs and homes for people coming to Otley. Otley now has strong links with Ballina and there have been reciprocal visits by the local councils in recent years.

Licensee’s David and Eileen took over the Manor House in December last year and since then have been working to help promote the campaign in Otley for honouring Thomas Constable and have thrown their weight behind the campaign to raise funds for a statue of him in the town. The campaign was launched on St Patrick’s Day in 2014 by Otley’s MP Greg Mulholland and Ray Smith, former Mayor of Otley who led a Town Council delegation to Ballina in Mayo in 2011 with local historian Chris Power, who also took part – and who has written a booklet documenting the history of the Irish in Otley.

The Manor House is named after Thomas Constable’s home and his portrait hangs over the fireplace in the pub following the renovation along with lots of memorabilia contained in the pub.

The Mayo Day Festival is part of a unique series of events to celebrate Ireland’s biggest County in the West of Ireland which is staging an annual one day festival called ‘Mayo Day’ around the globe. Mayo County Council and its Diaspora website www.mayo.ie have created this unique day which will be celebrated every year on the first Saturday in May by emigrants in their own communities.

Joining David and Eileen in the celebrations will be Greg Mulholland and his five piece acoustic folk band called Summercross, who will perform live from 7:30pm on the night. Summercross will be playing ‘Irish Fields, their powerful haunting song that tells the story of the Irish refugees who came to Otley from Mayo to escapte an Gorta Mór. The song describtes the journey of a family from Kiltimagh in Mayo travelling to Otley to seek refuge, having heard abnout Thomas Constable and his sister helping people to start a new life in the town. ‘Irish Fields’ has featured in the Irish Post and Summercross were invited to play it at the opening of the 2015 Manchester Irish Festival.

The event is being headlined by Irish Folk band The Beercats, playing from 9pm with singer-entertainer Alexander kicking off the live music from 5pm. The day will also feature the fantastic girls from the River Wharf School of Irish Dancing who brought the house down at the recent St. Patricks Day celebrations at the Manor a few weeks back.

The whole May Day festival will be raising funds towards the statue of Thomas Constable. Most of the bands have donated their nights fees towards the fund and there will be raffles and prizes to be won throughout the night.

David Stephan, landlord of the Manor said:

“We will be raising the roof this bank holiday. This is the first year in history that Mayo Day will be celebrated all over the world, from Mayo to Boston, Manchester to Sydney, wherever there are people from Ireland and specifically from County Mayo.

“The people of Mayo know how to celebrate and there’s plenty of Irish descendants in Otley who will be bringing the town to life on Saturday night. The whole of the Irish community in Otley are looking forward to our Mayo Day weekend and not just those with Mayo roots.

“We have lots of exciting entertainment planned, from Irish dancing to live music, so let’s make this the best Mayo Day Festival celebration in Yorkshire!”

Greg Mulholland (pictured right with Summercross band), who launched the campaign to raise funds for the Thomas Constable campaign and Summercross singer-songwriter said:Summercross

“I am delighted that David & Eileen are staging Otley’s first ever Mayo Day festival at the Manor and raising funds for the Thomas Constable statue.

“I am also very pleased that Summercross will be playing, including playing ‘Irish Fields’, telling the story of how people from Mayo came to Otley, an important part of the town’s history. We are looking forward to a great night and I hope that we will raise a good amount to kick off the statue campaign”.

Ray Smith, former Mayor of Otley and Coordinator of the Thomas Constable Statue campaign added:

“A statue would be a fitting tribute to Thomas Constable, a man who embodied Otley’s generous and inclusive history. It would also be a reminder of our continued need to welcome and care for those who come from troubled areas of the world.

“I am delighted that David and Eileen of The Manor House pub, who themselves come from Ireland, support this project and are celebrating Mayo Day on May 2nd with an evening of Song, Dancing and above all, the Craic!”

The Manor House Mayo Festival celebrations take place on Saturday 2nd May from 5pm – Late.

Article courtesy of greg mulholland.org

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