‘We want the whole county involved’ say organisers of Fleadh Cheoil 2022
The organisers of this summer’s Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann say they are keen to get all areas of Westmeath involved in what’s been described as “the biggest event ever to come to Mullingar”.
On Saturday March 26, a public information day about the week-long festival of traditional music and culture was held at Dún na Sí in Moate.
Joe Connaire, chairperson of the fleadh executive committee, thanked the Comhaltas branch at Dún na Sí for hosting the day, which was to raise awareness of a fleadh that was postponed twice due to the pandemic but is now set to take place in Mullingar between July 31 and August 7.
The committee are keen to emphasise that residents in the south of the county can play their part in a successful staging of the fleadh, by attending the events, and by volunteering their time or providing accommodation to fleadh-goers.
It’s projected several hundred thousand people will descend on Mullingar for the event, a quarter of whom are likely to come from overseas.
Bernie McHugh of the fleadh executive committee said there was no doubt that some of the visitors would be staying in Athlone and other parts of south Westmeath.
“This is such a big event. I don’t think people realise the size of it unless they’ve been to a fleadh in the past,” said Bernie.
“I was helping a lady from Scotland who has a big family coming, and she is staying near Longford because she wanted a house big enough to accommodate them all. There’s no doubt that people will be staying as far away as Athlone, and further.”
Those interested in offering a property, a room, or rooms, to visitors, can register their accommodation on the fleadhcheoil.ie website.
With up to 1,500 volunteers needed to assist in staging of the event, people in Athlone and elsewhere are also being asked to consider giving their time to help out.
“Volunteering will be a fun way to get involved and get a flavour of the fleadh, because there will be concerts and events every day, in various locations both indoor and outdoor, right from the get-go,” said Bernie.
“There are myriad jobs available, from giving directions to helping in competition venues. If people have a talent that they want to volunteer, whether it be photography, videography, or acting as tour guide, we’d love to hear from them.”
Registration for volunteers is also now open on the fleadh website, and training is to be provided closer to the event. The minimum commitment is four hours and people aged over 15 can volunteer, though parental consent is required for under-18s.
Plans are also being made for tours and tourism trails that will give fleadh-goers a chance to see other parts of Westmeath during the week.
“You always want the fleadh visitors to see as much of the county as possible, with a view to coming back to holiday in the area again,” said Bernie.
“That’s an important part of it for us and for Westmeath County Council, who are a huge stakeholder in terms of running the fleadh with us.
“There’s a lot of people who visit for the entire week and there might be days when they want to get out of Mullingar for a little break. We don’t have the details nailed down yet, but there will be a chance for people to see different parts of Westmeath with buses out from Mullingar each day.”
The fleadh is being billed as ‘the homecoming’ because it’s being staged in the town where Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann was founded in 1951.
“That’s a big part of the excitement of the fleadh coming back to Mullingar. For Comhaltas that’s important, because it’s going back to where it all began,” added Bernie.