THE finishing touches are being put in place for this weekend's County Fleadh Cheoil - the first to be held in the Cork Gaeltacht.
Up to 6,000 performers and spectators are expected to flock to Baile Mhúirne for traditional music, dance, sean-nós and more events which begin this Thursday, May 9 and carry on throughout the weekend.
Seán Ó Muimhneacháin, cathaoirleach of the organising committee said the event is a huge boost for the area.
"We're finishing off the final jobs at the moment ... there's great excitement but we are a bit worried about the weather, so we'll hope for the best," he said, adding that thousands will come from across the country for the fleadh.
"There will be 1,000 competitors, so you can work it from there; each of those will bring family or friends and then there are the audiences that will come, too. I'd say we could be talking five or six thousand.
"It gives us all a boost, it gives the Gaeltacht a boost and it gives the Irish language a boost," he said.
Hosted by Craobh Lachtaín Naofa, the Cill na Martra branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, the fleadh began on a high note with an Oíche Ghaeltachta held last Friday as a curtain-raiser or 'Fáiltiú na Fleidhe'.
The cream of Gaeltacht talent was on show in the Abbey Hotel, including many exponents of the sean-nós singing for which the area is famous, as well as traditional music groups and young Irish dancers.
"It had over 100 participants, all from the Gaeltacht and it was of the highest standard. In this area we have artists of a very high standard that can compete with the best, and we're very proud of that," Seán said.
The organisers hope that this year's Fleadh Cheoil will have a distinctive feel, informed by its surroundings in the Cork Gaeltacht.
"We're hoping to speak as much Irish as we can, and our helpers will be speaking Irish too. We do understand that not everyone is fluent, so don't worry, we all understand English!" he said.
For more event information and times, see http://corkfleadh.ie/.