Aisling Ní Mhóráin, Fidelma Uí Bhriain and Gráinne Banks enjoying the Leinster Fleadh last year, which took place in the south Longford town of Ballymahon. Photo: Shelley Corcoran.
It's Fleadh Cheoil time in Longford again as the county gears up to celebrate all things Irish.
This year, Fleadh Cheoil Longfoirt will be held in Newtownforbes for the very first time and the local community are thrilled to be hosting the prestigious event.
The Fleadh will be held from April 27 to 29 and there are hundreds of children and young people entered in the various competitions so far.
There'll be a great buzz in Newtownforbes that weekend, with craic agus ceoil, music sessions in the pub each night and plenty more to enjoy.
The official launch of Fleadh Cheoil Longfoirt 2018 will be held in McGowan's, Newtownforbes on Saturday night, April 14 at 8pm.
The fleadh is being organised by the Newtownforbes-Longford branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, with a 14 member committee chaired by local woman Yvonne Ní Mhurchú.
“We are really looking forward to hosting Fleadh Cheoil Longfoirt 2018 in Newtownforbes,” said Yvonne.
“It will be a feast of music and it is a real chance for us to showcase our beautiful village.
“We are so grateful to all our local sponsors and Longford County Council and of course to Principal Liam Madden, Scoil Mhuire NS and Clonguish GAA for providing the venues.
“We have also had great support and advice from the County Board of Longford Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and the other two Longford CCÉ branches, Joe Callaghan CCÉ (Edgeworthstown) and John Dungan CCÉ (Granard).”
Hundreds of people are expected to travel to Newtownforbes over the weekend.
“We are delighted with the support we are receiving from the community in Newtownforbes.” said Yvonne.
“Hosting the Fleadh is a huge undertaking but Newtownforbes has got behind us and we have lots of volunteers ready to help out over the Fleadh weekend.”
There will be ceol agus craic in the three pubs in Newtownforbes over the Fleadh weekend but the main purpose of the Fleadh Cheoil is the competitions.
All over County Longford young musicians are busy practising their tunes, hoping for success and a chance to represent the county at the Leinster Fleadh which this year is being held in Muine Bheag (Bagnelstown), Co Carlow in July.
Interest in traditional music is at an all-time high in Longford, no doubt helped by the success of the Leinster Fleadh held in Ballymahon in 2017.
Edgeworthstown and Granard have long-established Comhaltas branches but the branch in Newtownforbes was founded only two years ago.
It now has almost 170 members including 120 children who take part in music lessons every Saturday in Newtownforbes.
The branch also runs a class for adults every Thursday evening in Teach Ceoil Clondra.
On Friday, April 27, the Fleadh kicks off in Scoil Mhuire NS, Newtownforbes with competitions in Comhrá Gaeilge, Storytelling and Scéalaíocht.
For the younger children there is a Junior Fleadh in Scoil Mhuire NS on Saturday 28 for the U6, U8 and U10 age groups - 140 children have already entered.
While the winners won’t get to progress to Leinster from the Junior Fleadh they may win a medal and it is a chance for all the youngsters to display their musical ability.
There is also a Junior Session on Saturday afternoon from 4pm in the GAA Complex.
Everyone loves the dancing competitions at the Fleadh and they are being held on Saturday 28 in the PJ Murphy Sports Hall at the Clonguish GAA Complex.
Competitors will take part in Sean Nós, Céilí and Set Dancing.
The main music competitions take place on Sunday 29 in Scoil Mhuire NS with 265 entrants taking part in 33 separate competitions from fiddle, tin whistle and accordion to a host of other instruments.
There are also competitions for céilí bands, grúpaí ceoil and singers in Irish and English, everyone hoping for success, a trophy or a medal and a chance to progress to the Leinster Fleadh.
Also on Sunday afternoon, April 29, the Friends of Fleadh Cheoil Longfoirt are hosting a poetry, music and storytelling event with special guest traditional seanchaí Helena Byrne in The Loft Hair Studio in Newtownforbes.
And when the 2018 Fleadh is over the committee of Newtownforbes-Longford CCÉ will get to do it all over again as Newtownforbes will also host the county fleadh in 2019!
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