Ché do Bheatha Festival, Killkee.
Kilkee is the main town in Loop Head. Having gained its popularity as a resort almost 200 years ago, it has become a favourite holiday destination on the West of Ireland. Popular with families as its beaches are safe and sheltered from the Atlantic by the Pollock Holes.
A passenger steamer service began in 1816, between Limerick and Kilrush and its popularity was enhanced by the opening of the West Clare Railway in the late 1800s.
Some its most famous visitors were Charlotte Bronte, Alfred Tennyson and William Makepeace Thackeray. In more recent times, visitors have included Richard Harris and Russell Crowe and Ché Guevara. This random visit has lead to the Ché do Bheatha Festival.
The festival started in 2011 to celebrate 50 years since the meeting of the artist Jim Fitzpatrick and Ché Guevara in a hotel in Kilkee. He was working as a barman there at the time and served whiskey to the revolutionary. Fitzpatrick was a fan of the Military Leader and had followed his career on tv, his generation were in awe of him.
In the early 1960s, he became world-famous as the right-hand man to Fidel Castro, overthrowing Cuba’s Batista regime. Guevara had acted as an ambassador for Cuba, travelling the world to establish relations with other countries, most notably the Soviet Union, and was a key player during the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis. They had become stranded in Shannon due to fog whilst on their way to Russia. Whilst waiting for the fog to clear and they explored the Wild Atlantic Way coastline.
Guevara’s Irish roots actually stretch back to the Lynchs of Galway. He was a descendant of Patrick Lynch, who left Galway in the mid-1700s and became a substantial landowner in Argentina’s Rio de la Plata region. He was a fan of James Joyce, he respected the Irish for their history and their rebellion.