Sunday 18 August 2019

Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2019 'awakens sense of community' in Drogheda as over 500,000 to join in craic

Beat on the street: Sam (10) and Rubie Sarsfield (9) of the Drogheda Brass Band
Beat on the street: Sam (10) and Rubie Sarsfield (9) of the Drogheda Brass Band
Beat on the street: Frank Godfrey on the bodhrán at the Fleadh in Drogheda yesterday
Sorcha O'Connor

Sorcha O'Connor

Organisers of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann say the festival has "awakened a sense of community" in Drogheda despite recent feuding and violent anti-social behaviour in the town.

Chairperson of the Fleadh Lolo Robinson told the Irish Independent there is a "feeling of goodwill" as the festivities kicked off for a second year.

"It has awakened a sense of community in the town over the last two years, the most I've ever felt," said Drogheda-born Ms Robinson. "There is a real sense and feeling of goodwill in the town."

She said it is hoped this year's event will break last year's attendance record of 500,000.

President Michael D Higgins opened the Fleadh yesterday and the "best of the best" in traditional music and dance will be competing throughout the week.

Iarnród Éireann will put on late trains back to Dublin Connolly, from Thursday onwards, at 11pm and 1am.

Today there will be lunchtime concerts in Droichead Arts Centre while the sold-out evening performance with Sean Keane takes place in St Peter's Church of Ireland.

Superintendent Andrew Watters of Drogheda Garda district has said there is a detailed policing plan in place for the "family-orientated event".

It has seen all annual leave cancelled for all gardaí in the Louth division while divisional and national units also feature in "a comprehensive policing plan".

He said that the 25 additional gardaí allocated to Drogheda since last year's Fleadh have had a positive effect.

They had allowed him to put gardaí on the beat in the housing estates on the outskirts of the town where most of the feud-related issues have been happening.

In addition, he said the armed response unit "are with us 24/7 in the Drogheda district".

Read more: Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2019: what's on and everything you need to know

Separately, gardaí have also confirmed one person was charged with public order offences after an incident in the town on Friday night.

The incident involved a large group of people and occurred at a premises before continuing on West Street, the main thoroughfare.

Gardaí confirmed that one garda received a minor facial injury.

Footage of an apparent assault on the garda, as he lay on the ground, was recorded by bystanders.

The Garda Representative Association spokesperson for Louth, Derek O'Donoghue, said it was "a miracle" the garda had not needed to be treated in hospital.

Read more: 'People assume I'm a fluent Gaeilgeoir' - Róisín O 'nervous' ahead of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 'Fleadh TV' gig

Irish Independent

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