By Meg Kennedy
You could easily mistake the rolling hills and (usual) greenery of Dunnstown for somewhere in Ireland.
But it’s not just the landscape that bears a resemblance; the small town, once nicknamed “Little Ireland”, has a special historic connection to the Emerald Isle.
This connection will be celebrated later this month as part of the Dunnstown Irish Festival; a two-day gathering over the St Patrick’s Day weekend, which will include a Saturday night of live music from local Celtic bands, including Melbourne act The Go Sets.
Sunday will see a ‘Family Day’ of games, including potato picking, tug of war, sheaf tossing, Guinness relay and Celtic music lessons.
Event organiser Shane Murphy said the festival was to not only “recognise the Irish history of the town,” but was also “keen to tap into younger generation recognising Irish heritage.”
“Everywhere you look is Irish,” said Mr Murphy.
As well as becoming home to Irish settlers, Dunnstown was also the birthplace of the nation’s first Irish whiskey distillery, established by Irishman Robert Dunn in 1854.
The town once had seven Irish pubs, now with just one remaining – the Shamrock Hotel.
The festival is now in its second-year of running, and Mr Murphy said it is “certainly going to grow,” with hopes of a turnout around 2,000 attendees this year.
“In the future we’re hoping to have the facilities to accommodate even up to 5,000 people,” he said.
Dunnstown Irish Festival will be held over the St Patrick’s Day weekend of 16 -17 March. Gates will open at 1pm on Sunday’s Family Day and will conclude at 10.30pm.
Overnight camping is available, with tickets and further information found on their website www.dunnstownirishfestival.com.au or on Facebook at Dunnstown Irish Festival.