Thursday 19 September 2019

Dominican Priory gets top billing on Fleadh TV

From a little bit of lemon drizzle for a Mayo woman to the smell of hairspray, it was quite a week for the church. Hubert Murphy reports

Margaret Walker, Ann Warren and Geraldine Curran from Duleek at the Fleadh
Margaret Walker, Ann Warren and Geraldine Curran from Duleek at the Fleadh

When it was decided that the Fleadh TV show was moving from the Mall to the centre of town, a venue had to be addressed.

The Abbey car park was identified but where were they going to get to host the whole production process, from editorial to meetings to food and hair and make up.

The Dominican Priory house was identified and the rest was history - Fr Jim Donleavy would be hosting a team of TV people for 10 days!

'It's been interesting, in fact, unique,' Fr Jim stated.

The crew moved in a week before the four live shows last week, setting up and perfecting everything.

As the sounds of Sharon Shannon and the Horslips echoed in the background, Fr Jim spoke about a hectic week.

'We meet some wonderful professional people and that was great. The presenters were brilliant and I had some great chats with Hector.'

In fact, Hector marked his 50th on Saturday and Fr Jim and the Dominican community got a special cake from Custom Cakes of the Dominican Fleadh cottage just for him.

'I call Fr Jim the 'rebel priest', he said as he wished him and the Dominican the very best of luck in the future.

'They are here 795 years and Fr Jim is the last one here. He's a great man,' Hector remarked.

He also said he was delighted to have the chance to celebrate his birthday in the town he was born in.

Throughout the week, the crew reported great kindness from those in the area.

One production person from Co Mayo - Elaine - was very taken with a kind local gentleman who made lemon drizzle cake for her!

From start to finish, the Fleadh TV show was ultra professional, giving a chance for a number of locals to star on live TV.

The likes of St Peter's Male Voice Choir enjoyed a slot as did SJ McArdle and Kern, masters all.

It showed off the town in immaculate style and that was something they wanted to do from the very start.

For producer Paul McKay, it was an iconic few days, being based out of the Dominican.

'I have to thank Fr Jim and Rita Hanratty for making us feel so welcome.'

On the last day of filming, Fr Jim presented the crew with special gifts, bearing the crest of Drogheda.

'It was something we wanted to do as Dominicans. We wanted to thank the people of Fleadh TV for showing off Drogheda in such a great light.

'The shows on the street were wonderful, the production great and I hope it will ensure a great future for the town as a tourist destination.'

On the last night of the Fleadh on Sunday, Fr Jim and members of the Dominican team were invited to Bru for the show and during the course of it, he was presented with an Italian rugby jersey!

He revealed that during his early days in Rome, he was a rugby player, playing wing forward with CUS Roma. But because he was a priest, he had to play under an alias.

The Fleadh TV crew sourced the name he used and officially 'capped him' for Italy on the night, about 60 years after he played.

Speaking on the show, Joan Martin, Chief Executive, Louth CC, thanked the staff of the council for their amazing efforts over the last seven years to make the Fleadh a reality.

She also praised the thousands of volunteers who played a key role.

She also said Drogheda was ideally placed as a tourist destination and wanted Fleadh visitors to return in the future.

While world acclaimed stars took to the stage at Fleadh TV, the town was given the chance to shine, with Bru by the Boyne and the Tholsel both in use for four nights.

One of the most spectacular sights was up to 50 Irish dancers taking to the steps at the courthouse for a late night performance. (right).

It showed what great locations the town has for major events.

Drogheda Independent