Never mind the road works - it's Fleadh time!

Sister Act: Ardfert siblings Danielle and Melissa O'Riordan getting Tralee in the mood for that trad music magic ahead of Fleadh Cheoil Chiarraí
Sister Act: Ardfert siblings Danielle and Melissa O'Riordan getting Tralee in the mood for that trad music magic ahead of Fleadh Cheoil Chiarraí
Launching Fleadh Cheoil Chiarraí at the Ashe Hotel, Tralee, on Friday were, back from left: Suzanne Ennis, Richard Casey and Melissa O'Riordan with John Long and John Stack front. Fleadh Cheoil Chiarraí takes place in Tralee for the second year running over five days beginning next Wednesday, May 17 until Sunday, May 21. Competitions will take place in the Brandon Hotel and Mercy Mounthawk with outdoor street entertainment around town, including the Square

Dónal Nolan

Tralee traders have never been happier to see a major event coming back to their town at this time of major roadwork upheaval - in the guise of the county's annual traditional music and arts competition.

Kerry Comhaltas Ceoltóirí na hÉireann joined with traders and music lovers of the town to launch Fleadh Cheoil Chiarraí 2017 on Friday ahead of the five-day event taking place from Wednesday, May 17 until Sunday, May 21, next.

Over 800 competitors, their families and countless trad lovers from across Kerry and beyond will descend on the town for what's promising to be the perfect start to the summer season.

And it couldn't be taking place at a better time for the business people of the town amid the upheaval of the ongoing redesign of Tralee town centre.

While some of the roads might be closed to car traffic, Tralee is 100 per cent open to all music-related traffic for the duration of the Fleadh. That was the strong message from the launch of the Fleadh at the Ashe Hotel on Friday.

Comhaltas say they are delighted to bring the Fleadh back to the county capital following its massive success there last year.

"We're also delighted to be able to help the traders of Tralee at a time of great concern for business with the roadworks closing the town centre. We felt we had to do something for them with the great support they've shown us these past two years," Kerry CCÉ PRO John Stack told The Kerryman.

Foot traffic into the town centre is going to be brisk to say the least with a fantastic programme of outdoor trad entertainment lined up centred around the Fleadh hub of the Square.

Competitions will meanwhile take place in the Brandon Hotel on the Thursday and Friday (all dancing) and Mercy Mounthawk on Saturday and Sunday (instrumental, singing, storytelling and comhrá Ghaeilge).

Fleadh Cheoil Chiarraí officially opens in the Rose Hotel on Wednesday night with a concert featuring some of the county's top musical families - set to be streamed live on the Kerry Comhaltas YouTube channel.

"We've put together a really strong programme with an emphasis as ever on the outdoor entertainment," John said.

Two outdoor céilís take place in the Square amid other music there over the Fleadh - the Neilly O'Connor band providing the music for the Friday-night céilí from 8pm and Uí Bhriain on stage for the Sunday céilí from 3pm. €900 prize money is also up for the winners of an onstreet music competition on Friday night outside the Brogue and Supervalu and other venues (kindly sponsored by the Tralee Chamber Alliance and JRI America).

Kerryman

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