Tuesday 22 October 2019

Drogheda prepares for Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2019 despite surge in local crime

West Street was packed for the Fleadh.
West Street was packed for the Fleadh.
Crowds throng West Street in Drogheda on Sunday afternoon

Callum Lavery

Organisers of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann have said they never doubted that the festival would return to the town, despite crime fears.

Locals had speculated that the annual festival would be cancelled due to the rising levels of crime associated with a gangland feud in the area.

However, secretary to the festival and director of services at Louth County Council, Paddy Donnelly, has said that organisers never thought even for "one moment" that the festival would be cancelled.

"There has been no reservations from the organising committee that we would not hold the Fleadh again this year.

"At no time did we ever hesitate or miss a beat, but that is not to say that we are not mindful of the serious and unfortunate events that have occurred in Ireland’s largest town in recent weeks.

"We want to show that there is more going on here than what is being portrayed," said Mr Donnelly.

"Everyone is mindful of the risk, but there is not one moment that we thought the Fleadh wouldn't be going ahead."

Crowds throng West Street in Drogheda on Sunday afternoon

Up to 80 people are now involved in feuding in Drogheda between two criminal faction, leading to widespread crime and violence in the area.

The feud began in July last year, after 38-year-old Owen Maguire was shot a number of times at his home on Cement Road.

The festival is taking place in Drogheda for the second consecutive year. Last year's festival attracted over 500,000 visitors to the town, with over 1,000 people volunteering to run the event.

Mr Donnelly said that organisers were happy with the current garda presence and that this year's festival will be the biggest yet. He invited everyone to come to the town and enjoy the Fleadh.

"This will be the second time we will be holding the event, following on from the success of the festival in 2018.

"Last year's festival was successful beyond measure, we were not planning for such a big event, so we were overwhelmed with the high turn out. This year, we are preparing for an even bigger festival.

"It is a pleasure to hold the Fleadh in Drogheda, as it isn’t typically held on the east coast."

Details of the events can be found here.

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