Martin Hayes with the Common Ground Ensemble on stage at the Cathedral of Christ the King last Sunday evening.

‘Fleadh were lucky to have cathedral for big concerts’

The chair of the Fleadh Executive Committee Joe Connaire says that Mullingar was lucky to have the Cathedral of Christ the King as the venue for its headline performances.

At recent fleadhs the main performances were held in domes – this year, however, Ireland’s leading traditional musicians such as Martin Hayes and Sharon Shannon performed from the altar in the cathedral.

Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner, Joe Connaire said the feedback from people who attended the performances in the cathedral has been very positive and that being able to hold events in such a space added another dimension to the fleadh. On the final night of the fleadh, the ceili band competition was held in the Cathedral and attracted a sold out crowd.

“Compliments to Bishop Tom Deenihan and Fr Phil Gaffney and all the staff up there – they couldn’t be more helpful to us,” said Joe.

“The cathedral is such a beautiful building. Generally at a Fleadh Cheoil, the committee hire a dome and having the cathedral to use as our main facility for holding concerts and the last competition of the event, the senior ceili band competition was there, which was amazing.

“Compliments to Nolan Sound, a local company, who did the sound and lighting, Jamie and Alan and all the crew, they couldn’t have been better.”

During his concert on the opening night of the fleadh, Martin Hayes praised Bishop Deenihan for his decision to allow concerts to be staged in the cathedral and joked that he was trying very hard not to say or do anything “sacrilegious”.