Shelley Marsden takes a look at what’s happening in Derry for a rather special Fleadh Cheoil
Derry seems to ticks all the boxes right now: it is a vibrant tourist destination in itself, it is the UK City of Culture this year in the year of The Gathering, a celebration of all that is Irish, and it is also warming up to host Ireland’s biggest traditional music event, the Fleadh Cheoil (www.fleadhcheoil.ie).
Running from 11 to 18 August, the vibrant All-Ireland Fleadh will take place in an eclectic selection of venues across the city, no doubt welcoming traditional enthusiasts from across the globe to its plethora of sessions, concerts, exhibitions and street events. London’s ‘banjo king’ Mick O’Connor is just one of those who’ll be making his way to Derry, as he is set to receive a Bardic Award there on Tuesday 13.
Traditional music lovers are catered for in impressive fashion, with names such as Cara Dillon, Beoga, Flook, Dervish, Declan O’Rourke, Manchester’s Mike McGoldrick and more putting on shows across the week. But the sit-down concerts are just the icing on the cake. The real heartblood of the fleadh as previous visitors will know are the impromptu gatherings, the sessions in pubs, in doorways, on the street; the friends made and stories exchanged.
Of course, the Fleadh – often described as the “olympics of traditional music” – was born as a competition, and Comhaltas organise the annual county, provincial, regional and All Ireland Fleadh competitions in Fiddle, accordion, flute, whistle, concertina, uilleann pipes, harp, mouth organ, banjo, mandolin, piano, tin whistle, melodeon, bodhrán, pipes and drums. There is also a competition for miscellaneous (Rogha Ghléas) instruments, which can include cello, bouzouki, viola, saxophone, hammer dulcimer, banjo mandolin and more.
The climax of the week’s competitions is the Senior Céilí Band Competition, on Sunday 18. The most competitive of all fleadh competitions, as ever there will be entrants representing the four corners of the globe, fighting it out for the coveted title of All-Ireland senior céilí band champions 2013. Musicians, singers and dancers from all over the world will join together on Fri 16 for the CCÉ Overseas Reception, celebrating the global influence of Irish music and culture in 2013, the year of the Gathering.
The city’s spectacular 19th century Guildhall will be the centrepiece for a series of lunchtime concerts celebrating musical regions in the world, featuring the distinctive musical flavours of Nova Scotia and America with performances by the Troy McGillivray Trio, Liz Carroll and Tim Eriksen; Irish music with the Meitheal Orchestra and the Highlands and Islands of Scotland with The Campbells,
For the full article see the printed version of the Irish World, 3 August 2013.