It is fair to say that in deciding to move the fledgling Fleadh Nua out of Dublin and to bring it west of the Shannon in Comhaltas Ceoltóirí was taking a risk. With the benefit of 40 years of hindsight, it was an inspired move as the festival has thrived in the heartland of traditional music that is County Clare.
Writing in Treoir in 1974 GERARD O’GRADY observed: “Many had considered that a Fleadh Nua outside Dublin would be a flop. It was the very opposite and it can now take its place in the world of traditional festivals. As a country traditional festival, and with the very high standards set by County Clare and Ennis, this unique event is just what is needed and long may it continue as a real, working and successful showcase of Ireland’s culture in music, song and dance.”
It is thanks to the efforts of the voluntary organising committee with the generous and unstinting co-operation of the national organisation of Comhaltas, the Traditional Arts Community at large, local and state agencies, the businesses and the people of Ennis that Fleadh Nua has developed into the well-respected and critically-acclaimed showcase for all that is best in our traditional arts which it is today. And while nostalgia lovers may lament the passing of the Parade, the dearth of Musicians playing on the Streets and the absence of tents in the Bishop’s Hill and the Fair Green, the promise of “something for everyone” will be fulfilled at Fleadh Nua 2014 just as it was when it was first made in Ennis in 1974.
REMEMBERING ROBBIE MCMAHON – EXHIBITION LAUNCH AND LECTURE
Songs and singers occupy a special place in the hearts of those who love our Traditional Arts and Culture. For countless generations songs have been used to pass on knowledge, as well as cultural and social values all across the world and singers have long been regarded as guardians of collective memory. Indeed, the crucial role which is undertaken by singers and songs in keeping cultures and languages alive has been recognised by UNESCO and it forms the leitmotif to Fleadh Nua 2014. During his lifetime, the late Robbie McMahon fulfilled this role with distinction. A traditional singer of the first rank, Robbie will forever be associated with “Spancilhill” – a plaintive song of emigration which has become the anthem of his beloved County Clare. It is thanks to the efforts of Robbie that the version of the song as originally written by Michael Considine was heard by audiences worldwide. Robbie was also an accomplished composer of songs and ballads whose keen powers of observation with regard to local and national events, natural wit and tremendous depth of feeling are revealed in his lyrics. Allied to these undoubted vocal and creative abilities, Robbie was also a consummate entertainer who invariably had – and held – his audience in the palm of his hand for the duration of his performance.
On Thursday, 22nd May the ROBBIE MCMAHON EXHIBITION will be launched at Cois na hAbhna. The Exhibition will showcase the life and achievements of “The King of Spancilhill” and associated memorabilia including the Fiddle of Martin Moylan whose music is mentioned in the song. A unique CD of Robbie’s songs entitled “OLD MAN IN THE HOB” which were recorded by Fr. Joe McMahon during the 1980’s and early 1990’s will be launched on the night. The event programme also features a lecture entitled “THE ROLE OF THE BALLAD IN IRISH SOCIAL HISTORY” which will be delivered by acclaimed musician and academic, MICK MOLONEY and a closing session of songs and music with special guests.
CEOLCHOIRM NA nIOMRÁITEACH – CELEBRITY CONCERT
Performances by the finest traditional singers, musicians and dancers are de rigueur at Fleadh Nua and have been since the festival decamped to Ennis back in 1974. The Celebrity Concert which takes place in Glór on Saturday, 24th May will feature the vocal talents of MICK MOLONEY, the inimitable JIMMY CROWLEY AND STOKER’S LODGE, the internationally acclaimed ROBBIE O’CONNELL and NORA BUTLER – “Tipperary’s Queen of Song”. Recent recipient of Gradam an Chomhaltais and Gradam Ceoil TG4, CHRIS DRONEY, BOBBY GARDINER, TARA BREEN, SEAMUS and MARTIN CONNOLLY with GERALDINE COTTER, and the MULCAHY FAMILY will also be on hand to provide the very best of music for the evening.
BORÓIMHE – THE LIFE AND TIMES OF BRIAN BORÚ
For the Millennium Celebration of Brian Ború
́ in 2014 – Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann has commissioned composer
Michael Rooney to write a suite of music reflecting the life of Ireland’s most famous High King. THE BORÓIMHE SUITE will be performed by the NATIONAL FOLK ORCHESTRA OF IRELAND as part of Fleadh Nua at Glór on Friday, 23rd May. The Orchestra includes leading traditional and classical musicians from around the country and will be augmented by dancers, singers and actors for the occasion.
KILFENORA CÉILÍ BAND CONCERT
Fleadh Nua’s Concert Programme draws to a close on Sunday, 25th May, when the doyen of Ireland’s Céilí Bands, THE KILFENORA takes to the stage in Glór. The concert will also feature the vocal talents of Galway Singer, DON STIFFE as well as the dancing skills of local dancer, MICHAEL DONNELLAN.
CRAG ROAD – ACOUSTIC RECITAL
“CRAG ROAD” comprises EOIN O’ NEILL on bouzouki, QUENTIN COOPER on guitar, banjo and fiddle, AOIBHEANN QUEALLY on concertina and singer and bodhrán player, NOIRIN LYNCH. On Sunday, 25th May in the beautiful surroundings of the Rowan Tree café, Crag Road will deliver an intimate acoustic recital giving Fleadh Nua listeners an advance preview of their upcoming debut album. Crag Road will be supported by Meitheal prizewinners
DONAGH MCELLIGOTT from Lixnaw, Co. Kerry and CONOR BRODERICK from Corofin, Co. Galway
Music and Nursery Rhymes are constituent elements of our Intangible Cultural Heritage, the intergenerational transmission of which is vital for the preservation and safeguarding of our culture. THE SPEKS are a talented group of musicians who sing nursery rhymes and kids’ songs set to Irish music because they love Irish music. It is a winning formula that enthrals both the young and the young at heart and represents a highly innovative and attractive approach to this issue. Come to Glór at 1.00 p.m. on Saturday, 24th May and enjoy the spectacular Speks.
RICHES OF CLARE
“THE RICHES OF CLARE” series of free lunchtime concerts traditionally gets underway in the County Museum in Ennis at Fleadh Nua before embarking on its peregrinations throughout the county over the summer. Once again the Clare County Arts Office with Finola and Liam Ryan has succeeded in whetting our appetites with a star-studded line-up of performers as follows.
Monday May 19, 2014 LORRAINE NÍ BHRIAIN, JACK TALTY, EOIN O’NEILL AND SUZANNE LEAHY
Tuesday May 20, 2014 BLACKIE O’CONNELL, MÉABH O’HARE, EAMONN COTTER AND CYRIL O’DONOGHUE
Wednesday May 21, 2014 TOLA CUSTY, KAROL LYNCH AND GERRY PAUL
Thursday May 22, 2014 ANTHONY AND MARIE QUIGNEY AND MARK DONNELLAN
Friday May 23, 2014 JOE AND AIDAN RYNNE, JACK TALTY, SEAMUS HYNES AND PETER GRIFFIN
All concerts begin at 1.00 p.m. and further information is available on www.richesofclare.com genre.
SCOIL FLEADH NUA
SCOIL FLEADH NUA caters for those interested in learning more about the constituent elements of our Traditional Arts and Culture. The programme includes the FOINN SEISIÚN / MUSIC SESSION WORKSHOPS under the guidance of FRANK CUSTY, a GUIDED WALKING TOUR OF ENNIS, STORYTELLING SESSION, IRISH LANGUAGE CONVERSATION COFFEE MORNINGS, and an IRISH LANGUAGE WORKSHOP. Screenings of “LAST NIGHT AS I LAY DREAMING” – the captivating and evocative documentary on the life and songs of the late Robbie McMahon which has delighted audiences from America to Australia as well in Ireland – are not to be missed.
STRICTLY COME SET/CÉILÍ/SEAN NÓS DANCING
Top class CÉILITHE to top class Bands are a cornerstone of the programme at any Fleadh Nua. Just take a look at this year’s line-up which features THE TULLA CÉILÍ BAND, JOHNNY REIDY CÉILÍ BAND, ABBEY CÉILÍ BAND, STAR OF
MUNSTER CÉILÍ BAND, MICHEÁL SEXTON, and THE FOUR COURTS CÉILÍ BAND. Cois na hAbhna plays host to
COMÓRTAS NÁISIÚNTA RINCE / THE NATIONAL DANCE CHAMPIONSHIPS on Saturday, 24th May. The SEAN NÓS DANCING COMPETITIONS also take place on Saturday, 24th May in the nearby Gaelscoil Mhichíl Cíosóg. Entry Forms for both competitions are available to download at www.fleadhnua.com For further information, please contact Attracta O’Dea at 065 – 6822627 and 086 – 0834797. On Friday, 23rd and Saturday, 24th May SET DANCING
WORKSHOPS in the Holy Family Hall conducted by Dance Master DICK O’CONNELL will help put a spring in your step as you take to the floor at Fleadh Nua – the Dancer’s Paradise
A BAR OF A SONG
Year in and year out a prodigious list of contacts in the Singing Community allied to considerable powers of persuasion enables Joe O’Connor to assemble vocalists of the highest quality for the Singers’ Clubs at Fleadh Nua. Featuring at this year’s festival will be JIMMY O’BRIEN from Killarney, the West Limerick Singing Club’s own PHILIP ENRIGHT and the acclaimed ambassador of traditional Ulster songs and singing, ROSIE STEWART. The Singers’ Club convenes at 9.30 p.m. in the Temple Gate Hotel on the nights of Friday, 23rd to Sunday, 25th May inclusive.
Given their families and their own lengthy association with Fleadh Nua, it is a source of immense pride to us that LOUISE MULCAHY and JOSIE NUGENT and BRIAN STAFFORD have chosen to launch their respective CD’s at this year’s festival. Louise will launch her debut Solo Album “TUNING THE ROAD” which showcases her consummate mastery of the Flute, Uileann Pipes and Whistle on Saturday, 24th May at 4.30 p.m. in the Temple Gate Hotel. “THE CAVES OF CONG” is the title of Josie Nugent and Brian Stafford’s CD which was inspired by a shared interest in the origins of their music and in the work of 19th century and contemporary collectors. And it will be launched at 5.30 p.m. on the same date and at the same venue.
AND THE TRIMMINGS
Other events to look out for are the PUB SESSION TRAIL – comprising over 70 different sessions-, PIPE BAND PERFORMANCES, TEEN TRAD TALENT, OPEN-AIR ART EXHIBITION, STREET ENTERTAINMENT FEATURING THE SCOIL CHRIOST RÍ BAND, CUPÁN CEOIL / CAFÉ MUSIC SESSIONS, and CRUSHEEN COMHALTAS BRANCH TRIBUTE NIGHT.
At Fleadh Nua the emphasis is most definitely on enjoyment and entertainment. The programme of events shows that there really is something for everyone at “the most participatory of the Irish Music Festivals” as recommended by distinguished travel writer REID BRAMBLETT. It is also a pocket-friendly festival with admission to most events either free of charge or moderately priced – an important consideration in these dread days of austerity. Mar sin, bí linn ag Fleadh Nua, níl fleadh níos fearr.
For further details please see our website: www.fleadhnua.com.