'Fleadh-tastic' time as town tills ring to sound of music
'FLEADH-TASTIC' is how local businesses are describing the economic boost that has lifted a town out of the jaws of recession this week.
Extra staff have been hired, new shops opened and tills are ringing as Cavan braces itself for a deluge of over 200,000 visitors to the week-long Fleadh Cheoil Na hEireann.
"We've had a couple of very tough years between the cross-border trading and the general economic recession," Chamber of Commerce president Pacelli Lynch said.
"This is a much welcome boost to the town and it coincides with the sterling getting stronger, which has stopped the cross-border trade."
Since Monday, visitors have been pouring into the town, causing a surge in business activity, but the real crowds are expected to converge from tomorrow.
Local organiser Eamon McDwyer said the fleadh was the biggest event Cavan has ever hosted.
"There are 10,000 competitors and we expect to see between 200,000 and 250,000 visitors . . . the economic benefits of that could be between €20m and €25m," he explained.
Yesterday, local businesswoman Grainne Hourican opened the Fleadh Deli across from her own popular Chapter One Cafe on the town's Main Street especially for the event.
"Please God it will be all we are expecting it to be. We are paying big rent for the new place but we did our research in Tullamore (where the Fleadh has been hosted for the past three years).
"The women down there told us we could expect Monday to Wednesday to be like Christmas week and from Thursday to Sunday we could expect 2,000 customers a day," she said.
The new shop, serving traditional dinners daily, will be run by Grainne's husband Ciaran while her sister Eilish will operate a burger and hot dog stand from another unit until 2am.
"We have taken on 10 extra staff for the week. Hopefully, it will all pay off but the signs are good so far. There was a long queue outside our cafe yesterday and we stayed open until 8pm. It is a great boost for the town. There is business for everybody," she said.
Another local businessman, Neil Doherty, whose sign company, Mels Signs, has also enjoyed a welcome boost said: "Fleadh-tastic is the new word here in Cavan. It has been a massive injection of enthusiasm and motivation. It has really brought new life to the town and the surrounding areas."
The town has risen to the challenge, and is looking resplendent with fresh coats of paint, new signs, giant sculptures and flowers in abundance.
Every available bed has long been booked and accommodation seekers are having to look to towns further afield.
New ice-cream parlours, food-to-go outlets and music shops have also sprung up.
Cavan has been working towards hosting the fleadh for the past five years and securing more than €100,000 in sponsorship from the Quinn Group helped seal the deal.
"It couldn't have happened without the support of Sean Quinn and Quinn Direct," said Mr McDwyer.
The only note of warning came from bed and breakfast owner Margaret Hopwood, who expressed concerns about overpricing.
"I am hearing reports of prices going up for the week and I just hope that this won't get in the way of Cavan hosting the fleadh again next year," she said.