The Connacht Fleadh, a festival of traditional Irish music, which will take place in Sligo between June 20th and July 3rd, was launched on Friday last at County Hall in Sligo. Household names like Hothouse Flowers, Téada, Moxie and the Blackwater Céilí Band, will headline the festival, which is the first in-person Connacht Fleadh to have taken place in the past three years due to the pandemic.
“It’s great to be back!” said Michael Cusack, Chair of Connacht Comhaltas, ahead of the start of the Fleadh on Monday next. “We’ve really missed the chance to play and hear music in public, and it’s wonderful to have this opportunity once again. The streets and halls of Sligo will be filled with music and will give us all a chance to enjoy the best of our tradition, and we look forward to many people coming to join in the fun.”
The programme of events includes concerts, recitals, lectures and much more besides. Events will range from major acts on the outdoor gig rig through to niche recitals on figures like legendary fiddle player Ben Lennon, Sligo composer Josie McDermott, and more. From walks to talks, cultural discussions to historical depictions, the broad brushstrokes of the festival will include many diverse aspects of Irish culture – music, literary and spoken word.
Speaking at his final official engagement as Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council, Cllr. Paul Taylor said that “The Connacht Fleadh will be an exceptional and memorable experience for our local community and visitors, and I know it will be very well supported. The various Comhaltas Branches around the county have carried out exemplary work in preserving, promoting and fostering Irish Traditional music, culture and the Irish language. It has certainly succeeded in this ambition, and in addition to preserving our cherished musical culture, it has energised and inspired new generations of talented young musicians to follow in the footsteps of the iconic characters who have gone before.”
One very significant event is a special performance by the Comhaltas National Folk Orchestra of Ireland, of whom Ashling Murphy was a former member. Ashling was tragically and senselessly killed in Tullamore earlier this year, and we hope that this concert will allow for a moment of reflection for Ashling and her musical talents.
The Connacht Fleadh also includes a large number of competitions from which qualifiers will take part in the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil. Hundreds of musicians across a huge range of
instruments and age groups will compete for the opportunity to play at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, which will take place in Mullingar at the beginning of August.
Bartley Gavin, on behalf of the Connacht Fleadh committee, wished all of the competitors well. “The competitions have been at the heart of the Connacht Fleadh for over seventy years. It is very heartening to know that musicians and singers will arrive in Sligo in large numbers next week. It is the final hurdle for those who want to progress to the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil, and I hope that all involved have a wonderful time. At the end of the day, getting to the All Ireland is the dream, but it’s a major achievement for musicians to have already come through their own county competitions, and we hope they return home happy with their time here in Sligo.”
Sligo has a long established connection with traditional music and indeed hosted the Fleadh Cheoil on a number of occasions, which was something Dorothy Clarke of Sligo County Council wanted to highlight.
“One of the main reasons the Fleadhanna Cheoil of 2014 and 2015 were hugely successful and enjoyable was the dedication of the many volunteers who carried out trojan work, they shared your pride in showcasing our wonderful county on the world stage.”
The committee of the Connacht Fleadh is very grateful to our funders for providing the finance and other supports required to run this exciting event. Various agencies have been involved, comprising Sligo County Council, Comhaltas and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. The Sligo LCDC, under the Chair of Cllr. Dara Mulvey, is the Local Action Group for the delivery of the LEADER Programme in Sligo, which also provided significant support.
The Connacht Fleadh takes place in Sligo between June 20th and July 3rd 2022. For information on the full programme of events, please visit www.connachtfleadh.ie and follow the Connacht Fleadh’s social media channels for instant updates and information, including live competition results.