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Wednesday 21 March 2018

Fleadh streets are alive with the sound of music

Edel Kennedy

CAVAN has never managed three in a row -- but locals are hoping to clinch that title soon.

This is the second year that the border county has hosted Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann -- and efforts will soon turn to securing the treble for the first time next year.

Last night the festival stepped up a gear in preparation for a hectic weekend of music and dance -- but 1,000 music students have been studying and playing hard all week at the Scoil Eigse.

And last night some took to the streets to show off their skills before the competitions begin this weekend.

A large crowd gathered at the main square to hear Haley Richardson (9) and her brother Dylan (13) from New Jersey play. Their parents, Rich and Donna, said this is the third time they have travelled to the Fleadh in Ireland.

"We always come for two weeks and make a vacation of it for the whole family. The atmosphere is just great and there's so much to do," said Rich.

An estimated 300,000 people will visit Cavan during the 10-day event, which ends on Monday. Organisers said music fans have travelled from the UK, Spain, France and the US to compete and soak up the atmosphere.

A total of 165 competitions in dancing and music begin today and will run throughout the weekend while 240 individual events are scheduled to take place.

However, a number of events sold out late last week, including two plays: 'Fleadh Town' and 'A Holy Show'.

One of the highlights tomorrow is a concert in honour of Andrew Grene who was killed in the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010. Andrew, who grew up in Belturbet in Cavan, was working for the UN in Port au Prince at the time.

His twin brother Gregory, a member of Celtic rock group The Prodigals, will be playing at the memorial concert, while Bluegrass legend Tim O'Brien will host a concert in the Town Hall at 10pm.


Scores of free events will take place around the town including a daily Flash Mob Dance, open mike sessions, art exhibitions and walking tours. A craft food village will also open tomorrow and Sunday.

Organisers said preliminary figures show that the number of visitors is up on last year. Early yesterday 400 camping spots were already taken and a third site had to be opened two days ahead of schedule.

Many people have rented rooms from local people, with hotels and B&Bs booked out six months ago.

Mary Ryland (22) from Steubenville in Ohio is staying in the town with her two sisters Margaret (24) and Melanie (17) and they are taking part in the Scoil Eigse and competitions.

"It's like a zoo at night, but in a good way," she said.

Local business people said the Fleadh is providing a huge boost to the town which has been devastated by job cuts. Last year's event brought an estimated €35m into the local economy.

Irish Independent

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