Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2019: what's on and everything you need to know
Eleanor McEvoy said it was a 'privilege' to kick off Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2019 at St Peter's Church in Drogheda last night with President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina attending.
The annual celebration of Irish music, dance and culture runs until August 18 and takes place in Drogheda for the second year in a row, with 500,000 people expected to attend across the week.
That's more than Electric Picnic, Longitude, and All Together Now combined, making it the biggest music festival in the country.
Here's whats on over the course of the next seven days and everything else you need to know...
Music-wise some concerts are already sold out (but you can catch them on Fleadh TV - more on that beolow), including Sean Keane & Band, and the Martin Hayes Quartet today as well as tomorrow night's Zoe Conway & Joyhn McIntyre/Cormac Befley gig at St Peter's Church and the GAla Concet with Horslips, Johnny Fean and more at the Coca-Cola Dome.
However, there are plenty more gigs with tickets still available from Brendan Befley in concert (followed by a streening of The Camino Voyage) at the Droichead Arts Centre at 7pm tomorrow as well as Ceol Le Clapsolas with Louth musician and producer Donal O'Connor who has worked with artists including Duke Special and Moya Brennan. Also performing will be award-winning sean nós singer Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh. They'll perform at Highlanes Gallery.
Also on Tuesday, the Bardic Awards & Dinner - Ceannródaithe Awards & Dinner takes place at the Westcourt Hotel at 7.30pm. This event honours poeple who have made a significant contribution to traditional Irish culture and this year's recipients include Martin Connolly, Sean Montgomery, Alex Navar and Eileen O'Brien.
Wednesday highlights include a lunchtime concert at Droichead Arts Centre followed by an hour of music and talk celebrating the legendary Séamus Ennis on the centenery of his brith.
John Carty will be presented with the Flanagan Brothers' Award and will play a concert at St Peter's Church on Wednesday night as the Meitheal Orchestra play at the Barbican Centre.
Nathan Carter and band will take to the stage at the Coca-Cola Dome on Thursday at 8pm but if you fancy something a little different The Augustinian Church will play host to Scoil Éigse tutors in concert hosted by RTE's Kieran Hanrahan who is also director of Scoil Éigse.
On Friday a highlight is the Trad Disco with DJ Paddy Callaghan who will be playing a blend of trad music with dance beats and tunes from around the world. Tickets are just €10 and it takes place at the Electric Ballroom.
Earlier in the evening Oriel Wave, the National Folk Orchestra of Ireland play The Augustinian Church from 8pm. It's an evening of music and song inspired by the Ulster Tradition and features the music of composer Tom Doorley.
It's worth popping down to see Sibéal Ní Chasaide with The DKIT Chamber Ensemble - she has landed an international recording contract with Universal and is just about to release an album. Cathc her in the relatively intimate surrounds of The Augustinian Church while you can.
Also on Saturday Notify will perform with special guests Kirs Drever, Tara Breen, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh and Donal Lunny at the Barbican Centre. This one promises to be something special.
On Sunday you'll likely be exhausted but won't be able to resist tapping your feet at the Senior Céilí Band Competition 2019 at the Coca-Cola Fleadh Dome where the competition will be fierce and the music and talent incredible. If you want to bag a ticket for this one there will be limited tickets released for in-person bookings only on Saturday at 11am at the official Fleadh Cheoil Box Office at Laurence Shopping Centre.
There are more music events taking place across the week - for the full rundown check out fleadhcheoil.ie
There are ceilis and set dancing and set dancing workshops on every day from Wednesday when there's free open air dancing with the Triskell Céili Band at Gig Rig on Bolton Square from 8.30pm.
The Triskell Céili Band will then play at McHugh's from 9pm.
On Friday there's the Swallow's Tail Céili Band at Our Lad's College, Greenhyill and on Saturday the Abbey Ceili Band at the same location, both kicking off at 9pm.
On Sunday there will be a farewell set dancing céili with Donie Nolan adn Taylor's Cross Ceilie Band.
There's also a set dancing workshop with John McEvoy on Wednesday and Thursday at 10.30am.
All tickets €10.
For those who can't physically make it to the events, Fleadh TV returns this year on TG4 with live coverage over four nights from Thursday August 15 to Sunday 18 (from 8.30pm to 11.30pm each night).
You can watch the craic anywhere in the world on the TG4 player www.fleadhcheoil.ie and on www.fleadh.tv
Presenters Hector Ó hEochagáin and Doireann Ní Ghlacáin return this year with the brilliant Roisin O also taking up presenting duties for the first time.
Among the acts broadcasting on Fleadh TV will be Hot House Flowers, Frankie Gavin & The Provenance, Horsplips, Kilfenora Céilí Band, Lankum, Zoe Conway with Dubliners legend John Sheahan, The Stevie Dunne Band, Altan, Fidil, Kate Rusby Band and more.
What else is on?
Aside from music there are daily tours - the Treasures of the Boyne Valley tour takes place daily from The Battle of the Boyne Centre, Oldbridge House, taking in Barmeath Castle and Mellifont Abbey.
Arán & Im is an unusual performance in which writer, TV documentary marker and journalist Manchán Magan will give a theatrical performance during which he bakes sourdough bread while speaking about the quirks and wonders of the Irish language. You can then enjoy the bread with lashings of butter which you've curned yourself rom Irish cream.
Nic Gareiss: The Art of Treepling is a performance by dancer Nic Gareiss who melds Irish and Appalachian dance. Move over Michael Flatley!
Where can I get tickets?
Check out the website fleadhcheoil.ie for tickets - most are available to book online, with a few exceptions and tickets range from €10 to €30 depending on the event.
How to get to Drogheda
Matthews Coaches operate services directly to Drogheda via the M1 from both Dublin and Dundalk. There are 133 services daily. Timetable and stops are at Matthews.ie