Sligo came to a standstill yesterday as traditional Irish dancers took to the streets, treating drivers and passersby to a unique performance.
The group of young dancers from the Cos Cos Dance group in Drumcliffe were marking the Sligo Fleadh open day, showcasing the more than 100 events set to take place during the ten day event.
They treated passers-by to a range of sean nós and traditional dance with schoolchildren as young as six joining in on the historic Sligo bridge.
Also on hand to celebrate at the open day was composer Michael Rooney, who recently composed a special piece of music for Prince Charles and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall.
He said he had noticed a surge in interest in traditional music following last year’s Fleadh.
“We’ve a really strong cohort of musicians in Sligo over the last 20 years and it’s great to see a new generation get involved. The numbers taking up classes as the result of the Fleadh are definitely up,” he added.
Síle Garrett Haran of Sligo Tourism said the event brought in an estimated €80m to the area last year, attracting up to 390,000 visitors.
Bartley Gavin, Chair of the Fleadh said they expected to increase those figures this year.
He said the Fleadh’s 1,500 local volunteers had helped make the event the success it was.
“Locals helped out in their hundreds and they gave visitors a really warm welcome. There was a real sense of town pride. It changed the nature of the festival, and a lot of tourists commented on it. We’re expecting even greater numbers this year,” he said.
Last year all accommodation in the town was fully booked for the festival with visitors staying in nearby towns of Bundoran, Carrick-on-Shannon and Ballina. This year, organisers want to see locals take their community spirit one step further.
“We’re encouraging people to open their homes to visitors, we would like to see them offering rooms, especially to our overseas visitors. We need to get our accommodation base up to deal with the influx. We don’t want people who want to come to the Fleadh left without any accommodation,” he added.
Anne Gorby said over 1,100 have so far volunteered to help out this year with expectations that number will hit up to 1,800 before the event.
The Sligo Fleadh runs from August 9 to 16. For more information see www.fleadhcheoil.ie