Fiddles and flutes at the ready for Fleadh Cheoil
FIDDLES, flutes and focloir make traditional music "cool," say the young stars of this year's Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann.
Perched on stools outside Sligo bus station, a group of budding traditional players greet visitors to the town with a session and a sing song.
Sam Purcell, from Sligo, started playing the tin whistle when he was six-years-old and has practiced for months to play during the Fleadh - the world's biggest traditional music festival.
"Trad is cooler than pop music," said the talented 10-year-old, serenading crowds stepping off a Bus Eireann Expressway coach - one of the official sponsors of the competition for amateur musicians. "It's catchy, it's different, and I love hearing all the snares and flutes," he added.
"It's a wonderful experience for the kids, they are just played out," said Eileen Curley, watching her two daughters "giving it socks." "We go every year and now they are showing their friends what it's all about," she said.
More than 350,000 people are expected at this week's Fleadh Cheoil, showcasing tradition and skills, including 8,000 child and adult competitors. Almost 800 children have registered for this year's finals - the highest number ever said Fleadh Chairman Bartley Gavin.
"We have witnessed a huge surge in the amount of young people signing up for music classes. Traditional music is mad alive," he said.
The Duffy sisters, from Fermanagh, competed in the Ulster Fleadh, and couldn't wait arrive in Sligo. "They threw their instruments into the car and begged us to go early," said Colette Duffy, mother to Bronadh (12), Derbhla (11) and nine-year-old twins Muireann and Grainne. "They're mad to play and they play with heart."