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BAFFLE visit ‘The Fringe’

Every year Edinburgh is host to the biggest arts festival in the world, and each year it gets even bigger and, arguably, better. Between what happens at the official festival, the Fringe, the Free Fringe and the Literary festival, they’ve seen every class of madness and eccentricity and nothing seems to startle these unflappable Scots citizens.

Not until BAFFLE invaded the city this August.

A group of around 30 Bafflers set off from Shannon and arrived in the Athens of the North on a Friday afternoon in a light drizzle and much traffic chaos, due to Edinburgh City Council having decided to dig up the streets in order to put in a tram line. Great timing for the Festival!

But the following day the sun shone and the denizens of Loughrea, Athenry, Portumna, Lorrha and various other assorted sites of distinction made the city very aware they had arrived.

It would be true to say that a number of hostelries were glad BAFFLE was in town, as there was some very dedicated attendance during the few days we were in Edinburgh, but nor were the higher arts neglected. Concerts, plays, recitals – Bafflers were in the thick of it. Paul Barker, having booked to see Macbeth the play discovered he’d got a ticket for Macbeth the opera and had an ear-and-eye-opening time at the city’s Usher Hall. Verdi got the thumbs up from Paul, you’ll be glad to hear.


One of the highlights took place on the Sunday evening. A private room in a hotel close to the University halls of residence had been booked by Ian McDonald, the mastermind behind the whole trip, and for hours we ate, drank, recited, sang and generally let the world know what a poetry group can do if it puts its mind to it. Take a look at our photo gallery to see what I mean!

And the following day a fair sprinkling of Bafflers showed up at the Scottish Poetry Library, a wonderful architect-designed building in a close just off the Royal Mile. After being given a tour by Librarian Julie Johnstone, we were eaten up with envy at the very fine facilities available to poetry lovers in that part of the world. Aside from the stacks of books, there are audio desks, areas for children to read and hear poetry, research rooms and a shop selling books, tapes and CDs.

After the tour, we stayed on for a reading held outside in the sunshine. Led by a local poet, anyone who wished to could stand up and read a poem, and this lunchtime hour of poetry was scheduled for every day of the three-week festival. On the day BAFFLE was there, readings were given by poets of many nationalities, including English, Finnish, Scots, Irish, plus there was a highly striking and expressive reading given by a young woman from Russia.

BAFFLE last went on tour to Paris in 2007 and now we have a badge commemorating Edinburgh 2009. Who knows where we will go next?


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