International musicians teach locals tricks of the trad
A TIDAL wave of traditional music washed over Cavan yesterday as musicians from all over the world set up, tuned, and started to play.
And there was no shortage of sessions to choose from as the town enthusiastically embraced its second Fleadh Cheoil in 56 years.
Seven of the 11 members of the Willis Clan from Nashville, Tennessee, drew appreciative gasps from the gathering crowd in the Market Square in the centre of the town.
Jessica (18), Jeremiah (17) Jennifer (15), Jeanette (14), Jackson (12), Jedi who turns 11 today, Jasmine (8) and their cousin Rebekah (15) are all multi-instrumentalists and dancers -- attending their third Fleadh Cheoil.
"Irish music is so upbeat. It's happy. It makes you want to get up and dance. Any music that does that is good," said Jeremiah.
Famed lilter and Cavan native Seamus Fay (70) attended the last fleadh in Cavan in 1954 on his bicycle.
"There were just a couple of hundred people at it and I remember there were bicycles everywhere. The big attraction was the Kilfenora Ceili Band from Clare.
"This is a serious business altogether. I couldn't get the car into town today with the traffic," he laughed.
"Let Cavan Surprise You" has been the motto of the organising committees behind this year's event and there have been plenty of unexpected surprises for the tens of thousands of visitors. Town manager Ger Finn told of a lady called Kathleen from Missouri who reported that she had lost her wallet at an event the previous night.
"The wallet was later handed in to the garda station, complete with passport, cash and credit cards. She couldn't believe it," he said.
And there was the American woman in the supermarket whose American Express Card would not work.
"A local man behind her in the queue immediately offered to pay for her shopping -- and they say Cavan people are supposed to be mean," he said.
Walking along the main street, Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith declared himself even more proud than usual to be a Cavan man. "The town is looking extremely well, and is well prepared for this huge influx of visitors," he said. More than 1,000 volunteers are helping out.
"It has been a super success so far. Events are oversubscribed," said renowned accordion player and member of the organising committee Martin Donohue.
This year's Fleadh Cheoil has also managed to notch up a number of firsts.
It is the first Green Fleadh and is on target to be carbon neutral.
It is also the first year of Fleadh TV, an hour-long internet broadcast of interviews, songs and music to a worldwide audience.