Fleadh attracts 400,000 people

Fleadh attracts 400000 people
Martin and Tara Breen live from the Town Hall, Ennis on the Sean O’Rourke show, Friday morning. Photograph by Eamnon Ward

UK winners among the many thousands to take part in the All-Ireland fleadh in Ennis

The 64th Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann ended its return to Ennis on Sunday on a triumphant and joyful note. The week long celebration of traditional Irish music and story telling was celebrated by an estimated 400,000 people who visited Ennis over its nine days.

Among the visitors was President Michael D Higgins who went to school in the town.

Fleadh attracts 400000 people
President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina with MichÈal ” Riabhaigh at the official opening of Fleadh 2016 in Ennis , Co Clare on Sunday. Photograph by Eamon Ward

In all, some 10,000 musicians took part, 6,000 of them participating in 180 All Ireland competitions. An estimated €38 million was spent in Ennis during the Fleadh as 80,000 visitors were in Ennis at any one time.

There were 28 concerts, of which 5 were held in the 2,000 seater Shannon Aerodome at Tim Smythe Park and a thousand volunteers greeted visitors, acted as stewards, litter pickers Faces of the Fleadh 5km of Fleadh Bunting The streets of Ennis pulsed with Irish rhythm and revelry as age-old traditions were celebrated by new generations and the vibrancy of the Fleadh emanated throughout the town.

Fleadh attracts 400000 people
Clare All Ireland Hurling Winner and two time All Star Brendan Bugler, and All Ireland Club Winning Captain with Na Piarsaigh, Limerick, Cathall King united in music and playing side by side in Ennis on Saturday morning for dancers from Scoil UÌ Ruairic. Fleadh 2016 begins on Sunday. Photograph by Eamon Ward

The All-Ireland Fleadh was held in Ennis on two previous occasions, in 1956 and 1977, and both were landmark events in the history of Irish traditional music. Every year, the Fleadh provides a cultural meeting place for those who carry the great traditions of Irish music, song and dance in their hearts.

Micheál O Riabhaigh, Chairman of the Fleadh Executive Committee said: “It has been a great privilege and an even greater responsibility to host this incredible event. We thank all the visitors to Ennis and sincerely hope the music and the craic was mighty and that everybody had a happy and a safe time in our town and county.”

Fleadh attracts 400000 people
Ben Connolly of London, who came third, in the Flute Slow Air category at the 2016 Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil in Ennis. Photograph by Loretto O Loughlin/www.instantimageireland.com.

At the core of the Fleadh are the competitions that see traditional musicians, dancers and singers of all ages and backgrounds competing at All Ireland level, following victories at regional competitions. This year almost 6,000 competitors played, sang or danced for All Ireland titles in 180 competitions.

Fleadh attracts 400000 people
Calum Mc Gregor of Irish Minstrels, Glasgow, Great Britain, who came first in the Piano Accompaniment category, pictured with his family at Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann, in Ennis. Photograph by Loretto O Loughlin/www.instantimageireland.com.

The standards were high and the music more than lived up to the expectations of judges who had a very difficult job choosing winners for each category and competition. Scoil Éigse, the official summer school organised by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, ran throughout the week with Irish people and international students of all ages taking part in various music, singing, dancing and Irish language classes.

Fleadh attracts 400000 people
Orla Felcey of Manchester, who came first, in the Flute, age 15 to 18 category at the 2016 Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil in Ennis. Photograph by Loretto O Loughlin/www.instantimageireland.com.

This year ‘The Green Fleadh’ made it easy to reduce and segregate waste, minimise water and energy use, reduce carbon emissions and source goods and materials sustainably. It helped the 400,000 visitors to Ennis take the necessary steps to protect and improve the environment.

Fleadh attracts 400000 people
Kieran Hanrahan and friends entertaining the crowd at the Bofin to Burren concert in Glor at leadh 2016 in Ennis. Photograph by Eamon Ward

The concept of ‘Sharing Clare’ was also promoted to ensure that the cultural and natural beauty of Clare was shared with visitors to Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann Inis 2016.

Fleadh goers were invited to experience all that Clare has to offer and a programme of events and activities were undertaken in towns and villages throughout the county. Ennistymon, Tulla, Kilfenora, Feakle, Scariff, Cooraclare, Miltown Malbay and Quin were the towns and villages participating in the ‘Sharing Clare’ Programme.

Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann will be return to Ennis next year between from 13 to 21 August.

• For all the results and further details on the Fleadh and competitions, visit www.fleadhcheoil.ie

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