Warwick will play host to the best of the best Australian professional strong men and women, when they compete at the CelticFest 2022 Highland Games heavy events on Saturday March 26, 2022, organized by Highland Muscle.
CelticFest patrons will be able to watch amazing feats of strength, as competitors are put through their paces in events such as the 100kg stone lift, keg toss, Farmer’s Walk, weight over the bar, and the crowd favourite, the caber toss! Novice competitors will also be able to try their hand.
The event has a strong Southern Downs connection in local strongman Paul Driscoll, who is playing an instrumental role in bringing the heavy events to CelticFest. Driscoll’s genealogy is predominantly Irish via the O’Driscoll line centred around Cork.
The ‘O’ was dropped in medieval times when a notorious O’Driscoll pirate family made itself unpopular by levying high taxes, resulting in the passing of a law saying it was not illegal to kill an O’Driscoll.
Driscoll became involved in competitive powerlifting while still in his teens and has always had an interest in keeping fit. Meanwhile his hometown, Killarney, also has a strong Celtic history, including the settlement of the Leslie brothers, who hailed from Scotland.
Driscoll’s interest in strength started to combine with his Celtic roots when he first visited the Australian Celtic Festival in Glen Innes in 2007 and saw Highland Games heavy events. Three years later Driscoll entered his first heavy event at Glen Innes, and he hasn’t looked back, winning the caber toss, Farmer’s Walk and putting the stone at the 2019 Australian Celtic Festival.
Driscoll is passionate about seeing CelticFest succeed, and says he is excited to be involved in the event’s foundation.
“ This is something that Warwick can grab and hold with its hands and say that ‘this is our festival’ ”
Driscoll said. “It will bring jobs, and the tourist dollar, and more than that, it will let people know that if they have a strong Scottish or Celtic or Gaelic bone in the family or family history, what better place than CelticFest to come and explore that Celtic heritage.”
Driscoll hopes that the heavy events will not only entertain CelticFest visitors, but also inspire the next generation of strong men and women. “The competitors that Rob Mitchell (Highland Muscle founder) will bring will be quite entertaining, and to see the amount of work and effort and training that goes into a lot of these events is quite amazing, to see how much these guys push themselves to their limit.”
In a further twist to his talents, Driscoll is also hard at work melting, bending and shaping steel into swords to create his fourth Iron Throne - in homage to the Game of Thrones – which he plans to bring to CelticFest 2022, and which may become a regular feature of the event in future years.
The first throne Driscoll made is currently owned by theme park Dreamworld and is on display there.
“It feels good to be part of something here in Warwick, starting from the ground up, watching it grow,” Driscoll added.