Anna, left, and Aoife, right, with their sister Emma.

VIDEO: Sonna's musical sisters look forward to big event

The Dunleavy household in Sonna have been busy in the run-up to this year’s eagerly anticipated fleadh in Mullingar.

Members of the thriving Comhaltas branch in Ballynacargy, Anna Dunleavy (11) and her younger sister Aoife (9, “turning 10”) are both competing – Anna in U12 guitar accompaniment, and Aoife is in the U12 mandolin competition. If that wasn’t enough, they are both also on the U12 Ballynacargy set dancing team who are competing at the fleadh on Friday.

Students of Sonna National School, Anna, who wants to be a teacher or a vet, is going into sixth class in September, and Aoife, who wants to be a vet or a hairdresser, is going into fourth. They are also keen Gaelic footballers, who play for their local teams Bunbrosna and Clann Gaels.

However, for the last few weeks, most of their attention and energy has been focused on the fleadh. The multi-instrumentalist siblings – Anna plays the banjo, piano and guitar; and Aoife the mandolin, banjo, tin whistle and piano – are eagerly looking forward to competing at their first fleadh. The fact that it is taking place in their home county makes it even more special, they say.

The girls first joined Ballynacargy CCÉ around five years ago. They joined the set dancing classes with teacher Niamh Penrose, and starting taking music lessons under Jacqui O’Meara, Joe Connaire and Enda Seery.

Anna has been playing guitar for three years, while Aoife has been playing the mandolin for around a year a half, but learned how to play her main instrument, the banjo, first. The girls says that they are looking forward to representing their Comhaltas branch and Westmeath next week. They are also excited about participating in the Scoil Éigse, the Comhaltas organised international summer school where students are taught by some of the finest traditional musicians in the world.

On-street sessions are an integral part of any fleadh and the Dunleavys can’t wait to join in them. They will also be performing on the Gig Rigs with Ballynacargy CCÉ.