Wednesday 14 November 2018

Fleadh Cheoil jigs its way east to Drogheda

Traditional Irish dancer Grainne Casey with fellow members of the Robinson School of Irish Dancing pictured at the launch of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Traditional Irish dancer Grainne Casey with fellow members of the Robinson School of Irish Dancing pictured at the launch of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is a bit of a moveable feast.

It first launched 67 years ago in February 1951 in the Midland Hotel in Mullingar and since then has taken place in an assortment of towns and counties throughout Ireland.

This year, for the first time, it will be held in Drogheda.

"The Fleadh is an incredible thing," musician Liam Ó Maonlaí said.

Celebration

"It's as old as the hills and has changed shape and emphasis from generation to generation.

Liam Ó Maonlaí and Eimear McDermott (6) from the Drogheda Comhaltas pictured at the launch of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Liam Ó Maonlaí and Eimear McDermott (6) from the Drogheda Comhaltas pictured at the launch of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. Photo: Gerry Mooney

"People of all ages coming together and playing music, a town can become so energised for the week. It's like an injection of humanity."

Ó Maonlaí and his band the Hothouse Flowers are one of the acts that will perform during the festival, which runs from August 12-19.

The Fleadh is the world's largest annual celebration of Irish music, language, song and dance, and attracts around 400,000 visitors to the host town every year. Louth County Council has been trying to bring the festival to Drogheda for six years.

Joan Martin, chief executive of Louth County Council, described securing the bid as a "win-win".

"It means an awful lot to us because we are six years trying to get it here. So there is great excitement for the town," she said.

"And it means a lot to bring Irish song and dance to the east coast, where it wouldn't be as prevalent. So we see it as a win-win for Drogheda and for Irish music".

Other well-known artists taking part in the festival include Martin Hayes and Denis Cahill, Zoë Conway, Damien Dempsey, Pádraigín Ni Uallacháin, Sibéal Davitt and Gerry O'Connor.

Stockton's Wing will reform for a one-off performance for the first time in decades.

Traditional band Beoga, who were recently announced as the support act for Ed Sheeran's greatly anticipated string of gigs, will also perform.

Irish Independent

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