Sunday 21 January 2018

Fleadh TV: TG4’s marathon coverage will be watched around the world

The stars and producer behind this year's TG4 coverage tell Eleanor Kennedy why the show will be bigger and better than ever

Maire Treasa ni Dhubhghaill
Maire Treasa ni Dhubhghaill
Maire Treasa ni Dhubhghaill
Lynette Fay
Sile Ni Bhroanain

It's one of the highlights of TG4's calendar, attracting more than 900,000 viewers from across the globe last year. But this year, Fleadh TV aims to be even bigger and better, expanding its schedule to four nights and over 12 hours of live, unedited programming across three stages.

Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill, who takes over from Síle Ní Bhraonáin as presenter, said viewers can expect to tune in to "one big party" while experiencing the essence of Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in their own sitting rooms.

"We are going from three nights last year to four this year, so it will be such a huge show," she said.

"It will essentially be 12 hours of live television so it could be live and a bit dangerous!"

It will be a reunion of some sorts for the Connemara woman who has close ties with Sligo.

Before she was a presenter, Máire Treasa was a primary school teacher and taught at Gaelscoil Chnoc na Ré for a year.

She has fond memories of going down to Shoot the Crows in the heart of Sligo town, a pub famous for Irish traditional music.

"It is a great opportunity as the Fleadh has the potential to attract more than 350,000 people to a town," Máire Treasa said.

"For Sligo in particular, it's such a lovely, small and cosy place with absolutely beautiful scenery with the likes of Ben Bulben, Knocknarea, Rosses Point and Strandhill, which is really famous for its surfing."

BBC Radio Ulster's Lynette Fay and local Dervish legend Cathy Jordan will co-present for the second year in a row.

Cathy will be keeping things afloat at the Riverside Hotel, where an acoustic stage will be set up overlooking the Garavogue.

Lynette will be at the heart of the Fleadh mingling with locals and visitors on the streets of Sligo town.

Hosting the main stage will be 5th on Teeling, with some of the world's top acts appearing throughout the four nights.

Paul McKay, Executive Producer and Director of Gifted Empire Productions, who produce FleadhTV for TG4, said it is important there is a mixture of traditional and contemporary music on show, with Monaghan native and Jigsaw hit singer Ryan Sheridan even making an appearance on the Thursday night.

Paul said: "When we produce the show, we like things to move along but we are also very eclectic in the way we put the show together. This year, we will showcase traditional to modern music and everything in between."

But it isn't all about the legends of the moment, Paul asserted. "There is also an opportunity for young talent who might have competed at the under-12 and under-15 levels during the day to get two or three minutes to play on television in front of the likes of Frankie Gavin and Donal Lunny, some of the best musicians in the world.

"Legends love playing with legends in the making."

Audiences of FleadhTV will also play a huge role in its broadcast. Those who checked out last year's coverage will remember a vibrant atmosphere with high participation from the crowds and this will remain the same this year.

Paul said: "The people really make our show. Our audiences are not expected to sit and be quiet. We want to capture the energy of a live show and the crowds are the biggest part of that. I think that's the part I'm most proud of, as I even had the likes of Frankie Gavin come up to me and say that this was the way trad shows should be presented.

"The Fleadh is a very special event, it is like the Olympics of traditional music and I find it truly magical how the audience can go from roaring and cheering to pure hush at the sound of someone singing."

Last year, 850,000 people tuned into FleadhTV while 50,000 people tuned in online from countries across Europe, North America and South America.

But this year, records are up for grabs with up to 1.5 million people expected to get a glimpse of the festival.

FleadhTV will be broadcast on TG4 from Thursday August 13 to Sunday August 16. Coverage will kick off at 8.30pm and finish at 11.30pm all four nights.

Irish Independent

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