'Fleadh Cheoil 2022 – Time to get fully behind the biggest event to hit Mullingar, ever'
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
As a businessman who grew up and works on one of the main streets in Mullingar I have been shocked and concerned about some of the negative attention and opinions with regard to the upcoming Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann.
From talking to other business people and customers, I also firmly believe that this negative view is a minority opinion, as, I estimate, 95% of the people I have interacted with on the issue realise just how huge an opportunity this is for Mullingar and its people.
To put things in context this is not merely a festival – it is the biggest and most long running festival on the island of Ireland.
It has a cult following of diehard patrons who have not been able to attend for three years and it is come home – to its birthplace!
This is like bringing to the town the number of people who fill Croke Park at an all-Ireland final, each day for a week, and it is being handed to the business people and community of Mullingar on a plate.
I take great issue with anyone who says “there has been no consultation” or “we haven’t been given any information” in relation to the fleadh. There have been a massive number of meetings, emails, letters, social media posts, advertisements and information on websites – all accessible for those of us who have chosen to engage with the organisers.
Nobody has a right to say they have not been given information; you need to seek this information as it is impossible to contact people on an individual basis to provide details.
This project has been in the pipeline for more than four years. That’s four years of relentless hard work by the fleadh committee, who have chased down every avenue and lead to bring this immense opportunity to the town.
They are all volunteers who have put their own time into this event. They have sacrificed their personal lives, work and family – through a global pandemic – in order to bring this project to fruition, and should be commended from the highest heights for doing so.
It is easy to throw stones from the sidelines at people who put their heads above the parapet and try to do something for the community, and the negative comments from a minority of people are nothing short of disgraceful.
The entire Fleadh Executive Committee (led by Joe Connaire), Westmeath County Council, Mullingar Chamber of Commerce, An Garda Síochána and local representatives, should all be lauded for making this dream a reality and landing it on our doorsteps.
The streets have been busy with council workers readying the town and doing magnificent work so the we are all prepared for the massive crowds that will descend upon us.
Furthermore, the business people of the town have been given incentives to improve their shopfronts and premises, which will all enhance our community for the benefit of everyone.
There are some who ask how they will benefit from the fleadh – the reality is if you stand on one of the streets with Rice Krispie buns, you will be sold out in 10 minutes!
There may be some whose weekly shopping is disrupted, for a week, but that is a minor inconvenience to accommodate an event that will bring millions of euro to the local economy and will put money in people’s pockets locally ahead of a bleak winter.
From organising the Westmeath Bachelor Festival, I understand just how hard it is to pull off an event, and ours was only a drop in the ocean compared to the fleadh. This is an event like no other and there are hundreds of towns around the country that would be crying out to have this after such the few years past.
We have an opportunity in the first week of August to show the entire country and world just how much an amazing place Mullingar is.
We have an opportunity to stand up and be counted as one of the best towns in Ireland.
We need to stand together and embrace this opportunity in unison.
Mullingar is a unique and vibrant town and we must send the message that we want and need this event, not just this year but in the coming years as well.
In conclusion, I would ask, if you have read this far, that you join me and the vast majority of businesses and local people in commending the Fleadh Committee, local authorities, groups and representatives for all their hard work to date and that we stand by them in getting this event over the line, but also in securing it for next year.
Send them a message and give them your support, they need it and thoroughly deserve it!