Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is the largest Irish Traditional Music Festival in the world, attracting hundreds of thousands of Irish music, song and dance enthusiasts from all over the globe.
For the second year in a row, this national festival with international status will take place in Ennis, Co. Clare, and will be officially opened by Lord of the Dance, Michael Flatley. The official opening gets underway at 2.30pm in the Abbey Street Car Park in Ennis town centre.
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is delighted that the man who revolutionised Irish dance, and who previously took to the stage at the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Ennis in 1977 as a competitor, will now return to the Clare county town 40 years later to declare the Fleadh open to a new generation of competitors.
For many, the Fleadh is the culmination of months of hard work and practice as they compete against fellow musicians, singers and dancers to achieve the recognition of being an All-Ireland champion. For others it is a unique and welcoming festival of the best of traditional arts that offers a wide range of activities to be enjoyed by all.
Shannon Airport has come on board once again as the main sponsor for the Fleadh. Thousands of visitors from all parts of the world can expect a great welcome as they make their way through Shannon Airport en route to Ennis.
The All-Ireland Fleadh has been held in Ennis on three previous occasions, last year – 2016, in 1956 and 1977, and all three were landmark events in the history of Irish traditional music.
Frank Whelan, Cathaoirleach, Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann INIS 2017 is preparing to add to that history with an even greater Fleadh in 2017.
“With Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann INIS 2016 a resounding success, we are building on this to deliver another great Fleadh in 2017. With the support of our sponsors and the co-operation of Comhaltas, the Management and Staff of Clare County Council, local businesses, Clare Volunteer Centre, An Garda Síochána and the Health and Emergency Services Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2017 will leave a lasting legacy in County Clare to be celebrated and enjoyed for many years to come,” he said.
Teaching and handing on the tradition is central to the Comhaltas mission, and the passing on of that tradition does not stop at the Irish shoreline.
Up to 3,000 competitors will play, sing or dance for All Ireland glory in 180 competitions. They come from all over Ireland and abroad with a significant contingent from the United States.
Celebrating the survival and prosperity of that music, song and dance as it is handed down through the generations and spread throughout the world by the Irish diaspora is central to Legacy – the flagship event of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2017.
Scoil Éigse the official summer school organised by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and run as part of the Fleadh Cheoil also ensures that legacy continues. Irish and international students of all ages register for the various instrumental music, singing, dancing and Irish language classes each year, and last year in Ennis was the largest Scoil Éigse ever. The school provides workshops, lectures and sessions during Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. It is the flagship event in the Comhaltas Education programme. The lecture series for Seachtain na hÉigse and the variety of events planned for Seachtain na Gaeilge further enhance the Fleadh programme.
A huge level of volunteerism is once again necessary to support the running of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann Inis 2017. Over 1,500 volunteers have been recruited in a major campaign organised by the Clare Volunteer Centre which is responsible for the training and co-ordination of Fleadh volunteers.
Fleadh TV will broadcast live from the centre of Ennis from 8.30pm to 11.30pm over three nights from Friday August 18 to Sunday August 20 on TG4 as well as live on tg4.tv and on the Fleadh website fleadhcheoil.ie.
Clare FM will also broadcast live each day from the marquee in front of the station’s studios on Francis Street.
Last year saw the introduction of the Fleadh App which will be free to download again this year. The App provides Fleadh goers with practical and useful information throughout the nine days of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2017.