Willie Penrose (left) and Joe Connaire (right) vice-chairperson and chairperson of the Fleadh Executive Committee, concluding a deal with James Bourke of Mullingar Autos for a new VW Golf, which is the prize for this year’s fleadh prize draw.

Everyone asked to help with fleadh fundraising

A lot of Mullingar businesses did not support last year’s Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann “in any shape or form”, but it is hoped that now, when they know what it means to the town, more will come on board, said Joe Connaire, chairman of the Fleadh Executive Committee.

Joe is hopeful that the response from businesses will be more positive this year, now that they realise the full impact of having such a major event in the town.

He accepted that every business and household is under pressure due to rising energy costs, but pointed out that the fleadh brought €60 million to the local economy last year.

They know what it’s about now and visitor numbers will grow this year because it was so successful last year, he said. An estimated 500,000 came to town for fleadh 2022.

Mr Connaire urged people to buy tickets for the car raffle or to support the other fundraising efforts in any way they can. “Whether it is gold, silver or bronze sponsorship, every €100 or €50 is vital,” he said.

Joe thanked Minister of State with responsibility for EU Affairs and Defence, Peter Burke, TD, for securing funding for last year’s fleadh and is hopeful that he can do so again this year.

He also thanked Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, TD, for her support, and revealed that the organisers will be meeting her again in the coming weeks to secure further funding for this year’s fleadh.

He also acknowledged the ongoing support of Westmeath County Council.

The Fleadh Executive Committee have always been totally committed to paying all its bills. It cost €1.7 million to run the fleadh last year and the aim is to have the money in place to cover the cost of fleadh 2023, Joe said.