A scene from the All-Ireland Fleadh in Tullamore
Mullingar was yesterday named as the host town for Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2020. The event is the world’s largest annual celebration of Irish music, language, song and dance.
It attracts in the region of 500,000 visitors to the host town every year. The announcement was received with excitement and jubilation by Comhaltas people and lovers of traditional culture in Co Westmeath.
The event is organised by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, and will be hosted in Mullingar in conjunction with a local team led by Westmeath County Board of Comhaltas, the Mullingar Branch of Comhaltas and Westmeath County Council.
Joe Connaire, Chairperson of Westmeath Comhaltas, thanked the members of the Ard Comhairle for putting their trust in Mullingar to host this magnificent event, saying “We are deeply honoured and humbled by the ringing endorsement we have received from the Ard Comhairle of Comhaltas, both in the town of Mullingar and in the members of our voluntary bid committee who have put in a huge amount of work to get us to this day. We are bringing the Fleadh back to its roots, back to where it all began, and back to where our great organisation was founded. Is ceart é a rá go bhfuil an Comhairle Chondae fíor-riachtanach mar comhghuaillí chun Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann a eagrú í gceart.
“Our bid was founded on positivity from the start. Through our regular public meetings, we have built up a momentum to gain the full backing of the people of Mullingar and the wider community, We have been committed to planning a world class cultural festival, drawing on and cultivating our significant musical traditions in Mullingar, and particular strengths in traditional singing and dancing, and renewing our links with the founding members of Comhaltas, many of whom were from Westmeath.
“Our organising committee – which includes local TD Willie Penrose, Colette Glynn, Padraic Keena, Declan Connolly, Aideen Ginnell, Aoife Moynihan and Dick Stokes, and which has Comhaltas stalwarts Noel Battle and Mick Foster as our Honorary Presidents – has worked tirelessly over the past few years, while keeping the Comhaltas message to the fore."
Joe wished to sincerely thank Westmeath County Council who have gone above and beyond in their support for the Mullingar bid. He also thanked the musicians, singers and dancers and those from the wider Comhaltas community in Westmeath and further afield who attended and supported the many bid-related gatherings to date. He acknowledged the support of the business community in Mullingar, Mullingar Chamber, Fáilte Ireland, sponsors, schools and venue providers, An Garda Síochána, local church leaders and members of the clergy, in particular Bishop Tom Deenihan and Rev. Alastair Graham.
Chief Executive of Westmeath County Council, Pat Gallagher, welcomed the announcement saying it was an historic day for the town of Mullingar and County Westmeath.“The elected members, management and staff of Westmeath County Council are fully supportive of Westmeath Comhaltas’ bid for this prestigious event, Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. We are very proud to be part of this mammoth endeavour and have pledged that all necessary resources will be made available to the organising team. This is a major opportunity to put Mullingar on the international stage, and to show what our beautiful county has to offer to a huge audience.”
Orla Carroll, Director of Product Development at Fáilte Ireland, said: “Fáilte Ireland is delighted to support Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2020 in Mullingar. Festivals and events play an important role in delivering brilliant visitor experiences and the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is an excellent opportunity to showcase all that Mullingar, Westmeath and Ireland’s Ancient East have to offer visitors from heritage, culture and a strong musical tradition. In previous years, the festival has attracted over 500,000 visitors, generating €50m. Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann will greatly benefit the local economy and community.”
Joe Connaire went on to explain “The Fleadh has been described as the “Olympic Games” of Traditional Irish Music, Song and Dance. It is one of the biggest annual events in the country, and the largest festival devoted to Traditional Irish Culture anywhere in the world. And it’s coming to Mullingar in 2020! Mullingar and County Westmeath, the Lake County, which straddles Irelands Ancient East and our Hidden Heartlands, is going to open its arms and welcome half a million people over ten days. Tá oidhreacht saibhir again san Iarmhí ó thaobh ceol, rince agus amhránaíocht agus, gan dabht, ó thaobh ár mbaint le bunú an Chomhaltais. Mar sin, ar aghaidh linn chun Fleadh Cheoil den scoth a reachtail sa Mhuileann gCearr í 2020. Beir bua agus beannacht!”
Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2020 will take place from Sunday, August 2 to Sunday, August 9. It will feature workshops in traditional music and song, competitions, concerts, céilithe, street entertainment and fun for all the family. For more information follow Mullingar Fleadh 2020 on Facebook, www.facebook.com/ mullingarfleadh