Ennis records highest visitor numbers of any Fleadh

Ennis records highest visitor numbers of any Fleadh

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Lord of the Dance star Michael Flatley performed the official opening of Fleadh 2017 – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

The largest crowd ever, thronged the streets of Ennis, Co. Clare for Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2017.

Over 450,000 people attended over nine days of the largest traditional Irish music festival in the world. Numbers peaked at 100,000 on Saturday when crowds exceeded anything ever experienced in Ennis. All operational plans including a detailed Pedestrian Management plan operated effectively throughout the entire event.

900 students participated in masterclasses at Scoil Éigse. Concert audiences broke all records, FleadhTV broadcast 9 hours of exhilarating TV, while Legacy, Comhaltas Ceoltoirí Éireann’s flagship orchestral performance, premiered to the packed 2,000 seater Shannon Aerodome.

Happy children and young people enthusiastically embraced the Fleadh where they played in every doorway on the colourful medieval streets of Clare’s county town. Competitions were of an exceptionally high standard across all solo, group and Céilí Band categories. Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann has advanced a further step in positioning traditional culture at the centre of Irish life and developing it overseas.

Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

An inaugural Legacy Colloquium at Woodstock Hotel, brought to fruition a fine programme of presentations by eminent scholars and speakers. It acknowledged the journey that Irish cultural tradition has travelled and the responsibility of handing on the bright flame of that tradition and heritage to future generations. The Legacy Colloquium was addressed by An Tánaiste & Minister for Enterprise & Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald and was facilitated by Professor Emeritus, Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh of NUIG.

At Shannon Aerodome, the Comhaltas National Folk Orchestra, under the baton of Tom Doorley, demonstrated what the passing on of the tradition means in 2017. The 50 plus strong orchestra with guests including Joanie Madden, Shauna McGarrigle, Sibéal Davitt, Nell Ní Chroinín, Tadhg Maher and others brought the audience to their feet in an extended standing ovation. An outstanding success, it advanced the aims and objectives of Comhaltas Ceoltoirí Éireann in an energetic, modern creative expression.

In tribute to Ennis, Fleadh goers were enthusiastic in their appreciation of the scale and professionalism of the event organisation. The use of 2 large domes with a total capacity of 3500 people enjoyed maximum attendance for many of the events and competitions. The availability of other large venues such as glór also helped to manage the large crowds.

Businesses in the hospitality and retail sectors indicated a significant increase in footfall and the success of the Fleadh can also be attributed to the efficient and friendly welcome extended by their teams. 1,500 Fleadh Volunteers, the Event Control team, Clare Co. Council, Emergency Services, Gardaí, and other first responders made the Fleadh an exceptionally safe and positive experience for everyone.

‘We hope that Ennis, Clare and the Fleadh will live on in the memories of the 450,000 people who attended this year’s Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann or watched it on FleadhTV,’ said a delighted Chairman of the Fleadh Executive Committee, Frank Whelan. ‘We hope that people will return again and again to our town and county for the welcome, the music and the hospitality. To Clare County Council, sponsors Shannon Airport, Supermac’s, Fáilte Ireland and SIRO,  loyal supporters, dedicated volunteers, to the town of Ennis, our dedicated and selfless team on the Organising Committee, the wider sub-committees and the Comhaltas Community, there are no words to express my thanks, ‘ he said.

The Fleadh Chairman wished the Organising Committee in Drogheda every success for the hosting of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in 2018 at the handing over of the specially designed Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann flag, marking the change of venue for next year.

This year’s Fleadh in Ennis was officially opened on Sunday 13th August, by Lord of the Dance, Michael Flatley.

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Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.

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