Big year for Fleadh, big launch to match
It's an historic year for the Fleadh by the Feale, which is preparing for its 25th consecutive running in 2019, and if its recent launch night is anything to go by, its popularity shows no sign of declining.
A large attendance called in to the Ploughman Bar in Abbeyfeale's square on Friday last (April 5), and a night of traditional music and finger food proved a perfect taster for what lies ahead on the May Bank Holiday weekend.
On the night, sponsors, Arts Council members and public representatives joined lovers of traditional music, all anticipating another great running of the Fleadh from Thursday, May 2, to Bank Holiday Monday, May 6.
Chairperson Vincent Sheehy explained that the ultra-popular event was originally the brainchild of a local businessman, Dan Murphy, and it has grown in stature over the many years since passed.
As Vincent put it so eloquently, Dan had the vision needed to bring his love of traditional music to life.
Today it has a 12-person committee, including six who were part of organising a precursor to today's event in 1993, Fleadh Cheoil Luimnigh, and this is an illustration of how new faces and hardy perennials can combine to put on a show and a half.
"I'd be a relatively new member of the committee myself," Vincent said. "This would only be my third year involved.
"It's a big year for us marking a 25-year milestone, and I'm glad to say we had a very good attendance for our launch the last night."
Over the years, the event has welcomed the very best of traditional musicians, as well as dancers, singers, and storytellers of the highest calibre from all over Ireland - and, indeed, from much further afield.
All of the 2018 events have been retained, with plenty more added.
It all gets underway with something for the young folk, but there really will be something for everyone as the Fleadh takes hold.
"We'll start off on the Thursday evening, with the art poster competition for local primary schools coming to its conclusion in the Abbeyfeale library," Vincent said.
"There'll be prize-giving there that night, and then it's on to TJ O'Connells for a night of music, song, dance and Gaeilge."
There follows almost a week of pub trails, céilís, workshops, trad sessions and far more besides.
Among the acts booked in to take part in 2019 are the famous Kilfenora Céilí Band; Sliabh Luachra Sessions and Workshop with Eoin O'Sullivan; and the Coláiste Íde agus Iosaef band, a band that has been an integral part of the Fleadh setup for over 20 years now.
For further information on this year's Fleadh by the Feale, you can visit www.fleadhbythefeale.com; or contact committee members Vincent Sheehy (087) 244 3353, Mary O'Connor (087) 741 9343, Pat Quille (086) 608 9310, or Martin O'Donoghue (087) 618 6548.