At the Crater, Liss Ard Estate, © Harry Reid

The First Irish Cloud Festival

Earlier this summer, Sally McKenna (Cloud Appreciation Society Member No. 20,711) organised ‘The First Irish Cloud Festival’ in the West Cork region of Ireland. The idea was conceived in conjunction with Hans Wieland (Member No. 27,412) to bring together Irish cloud lovers and, more specifically, the Irish chapter of the society, known as ‘The Irish Cloud Appreciation Society’.

At the Crater, Liss Ard Estate, © Harry Reid

Gavin Pretor-Pinney experiences James Turrell's crater at the Liss Ard Estate, Skibbereen, during the first ever Irish Cloud Festival. © Harry Reid.

The cloud festival was held in Skibbereen, and proved a great success, with visitors coming from all four corners of the country to listen to talks on cloud-related themes and to do a bit of collective cloud gazing. The cloudspotting part took place in the ‘crater’ made by the Californian artist James Turrell within the grounds of the Liss Ard Estate. This amazing man-made structure acts as a sort of amphitheatre of the sky, the crater rim serving to frame the skyscape above as you lie down and look up from its centre.

Of course, the clouds did not behave as requested. They never do. The day before and the day after were perfect for cloudspotting, but the day of the Cloud Festival itself was veiled in what can only be described as the boring cloud: wall-to-wall Altostratus. No one seemed bothered, however. After all, where would we be if the clouds simply did what we wanted?

Colm Conyngham at the Irish Cloud Festival

Colm Conyngham explains why you don't want to fly into a Cumulonimbus storm cloud. © Roryj Jackson.

Cloud Appreciation Society founder, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, was delighted to be invited over over to West Cork as one of the speakers. He gave a talk entitled ‘Cloudspotting For Beginners’. Amongst the other speakers were Colm Conyngham, who gave a fascinating and harrowing account of when he got closer to a cloud than he ever wants to be again. He had a terrifying ordeal onboard an Air France flight over Africa on a plane that had a faulty weather radar, and as a result flew directly into a Cumulonimbus storm cloud. Though still suffering from memories of the ordeal, which resulted in many injuries amongst the passengers and crew, Colm accepted a Cloud Appreciation Society badge and is working towards wearing it in an effort to put the whole thing behind him. Also speaking were photographer John Baylis Post on how to take successful sky photos, Ian Carruthers, a local storm chaser and John McKenna on the theme of clouds in New Yorker cartoons.

There is already talk of organising another Irish Cloud Festival in 2012, perhaps this time in Sligo on the north west coast. Anyone interested in this idea can join the discussion on the Irish Cloud Apprecaition Society Facebook page:

Cloudspotting for Beginners

Gavin Pretor-Pinney gives a lesson in Cloudspotting for Beginners. © Sally McKenna.

And you can hear radio reports on this year’s event here:
A Newstalk Radio report on the first Irish Cloud Festival.
and here:
Download a mp3 podcast of the report on the Irish Cloud Festival by Lyric FM.

Festival MC, the actor and screenwriter Rob Heyland, and other festival goers in the crater. © Roryj Jackson.

7 thoughts on “The First Irish Cloud Festival”

  1. Coral Carter avatar Coral Carter says:

    I am an Australian cloudspotter planning a visit to Ireland next year, would love to include your Cloud festival on the literary…any idea yet of when it might occur?
    Coral Carter

  2. ireen says:

    … why don`t you come to Holland next year? Clouds enough over here!

  3. Hans Wieland says:

    Anybody interested in discussing and preparing the 2nd cloud festival in the NW of Ireland in 2012 please contact me through facebook or directly on my e-mail or by phone 071-9166399.


  4. Stephen Brightman avatar Stephen Brightman says:

    Stephen Brightman – 5 Sep 2011

    sorry for the repeat, the email address was wrong on the first post…

    I’m a dedicated “cloudie” from Donegal and would be very interested in the group and its activities but for reasons of my own don’t want to go near the dreaded Basefook…any other way of being included??


  5. Stephen Brightman says:

    I’m a dedicated “cloudie” from Donegal and would be very interested in the group and its activities but for reasons of my own don’t want to go near the dreaded Basefook…any other way of being included??


  6. Joachim says:

    I only took part in the conference part of the meeting, all the lectures were especially interesting. I hope there will be more of this kind. Fortunately I spent my holiday in County Kerry, so I only had a short trip to Skibbereen, Co. Cork. But I am from a place south of Hamburg. Thanks to the great organizing team and to Gavin.

  7. James Hill - Member No.3295 says:

    Sorry to read the clouds played up on your special day. Maybe you might like to consider North Devon for a future event? We have gurt big clouds here, ‘undreds on ’em!
    Best wishes,

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