Ceol agus craic as crowds de­scend on Drogheda for the Fleadh

Irish Independent - - News - Elaine Keogh

FOR the first time in its 67-year his­tory, Fleadh Cheoil na hÉire­ann ar­rived in Ire­land’s largest town, Drogheda, Co Louth.

The fam­ily-friendly fes­ti­val, which brought more than 400,000 to En­nis in Co Clare last year, will bring an in­jec­tion of around €40m to the lo­cal econ­omy.

The fes­ti­val holds a dear place in many at­ten­dees’ hearts. Jenny and Bar­ney McCabe love the Fleadh so much, they had hon­ey­mooned at the fes­ti­val when it took place in Ca­van.

Jenny and Bar­ney and their chil­dren Cor­mac (4), Fin­tan (2) and Muire­ann (1), had trav­elled from Cong, Co Mayo, to make the most of this year’s fes­ti­val.

“It is great craic, it is re­ally a fam­ily af­fair.

“Drogheda looks lovely,” Jenny said.

Va­lerie and Eoin He­garty and their five chil­dren Caoimhe (10), Eo­rann (9), Naoise (7), Fionn (5) and Muire­ann (2) also at­tended.

Caoimhe, Eo­rann and Naoise joined in with the fes­tiv­i­ties, play­ing the vi­o­lin, whis­tle and con­certina re­spec­tively on the town’s main street to the de­light of passers-by.

“We love the Fleadh, it is a great at­mos­phere and we are go­ing to make the best of it,” Va­lerie said.

At the of­fi­cial open­ing, Pres­i­dent Michael D Hig­gins said the first such gath­er­ing was in Mullingar in 1951 and was at­tended “by a few hun­dred ded­i­cated artists and sup­port­ers”.

“The Fleadh last year was at­tended by more than 400,000 vis­i­tors and par­tic­i­pants and the like­li­hood is that fig­ure will be ex­ceeded here in Drogheda,” he said.

Pres­i­dent Hig­gins en­cour­aged ev­ery­one to speak Ir­ish for the du­ra­tion of the Fleadh.

Pho­tos Ciara Wilkin­son

Clock­wise from left: Michael Blount from Bal­brig­gan en­ter­tains the crowds; Pres­i­dent Michael D Hig­gins meets Owen Moore from Clogher­head, Co Louth; and Pa­trick Lynch from Mul­li­nalaghta, Co Long­ford, plays the banjo.

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