Monday, April 15, 2024

Fleadh 2023: A message from Dr. Labhrás Ó Murchú

A message from Dr. Labhrás Ó Murchú
Ardstiúrthóir
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann

Over the years, the Westmeath Topic newspaper has given a voice to so many noble and inspiring community activities, aspirations and personalities. It has encouraged our efforts and lauded our achievements. None more so than Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann which Mullingar delivered last year with panache, creativity and exceptional hospitality. Fleadh 2022 lifted our spirits post-covid and for this the Irish nation at home and abroad will be forever grateful.

It was in Mullingar that Comhaltas first saw the light of day in 1951. A small group of dedicated and determined men and women – led by members of Dublin’s Piper Club – assembled at Feis Lár na hÉireann to consider the challenges facing our traditional music, song, dance and language and to dream of a cultural renaissance. Their dream has become a resounding reality. The names of Reynolds, Ó Muineacháin, Seery, Mulally and a host of others will forever be associated with this cultural revolution. We salute them with pride and appreciation.

It is fitting and timely that the Irish Diaspora – who are our people, ‘bone of our bone’ and ever-constant in support of their homeland – will receive a special acknowledgement at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2023. Comhaltas now operates in 21 countries worldwide and it will be our pleasure and privilege to accord a heartfelt céad míle fáilte to the thousands of our visiting compatriots and their friends to share with us the joy and exultation in which the Fleadh envelopes all who have the good fortune to be at this great gathering of the Gaeil. We are told that over 25% of the Fleadh fans will be from out-of-state.

The Fleadh is synonymous with Comhaltas and Irish Ireland. It is a unique festival – nothing like it in the world. It is a reflection of who we are as a people.

As we celebrate at the Fleadh in Mullingar this year, we can do so with a sense of confidence that our ancient cultural legacy – which is ever vibrant and appealing – are creative and timeless; that their appeal is evident at home and abroad; and that our young people, Bail ó Dhia orthu, embrace and practise, with innovation and panache, those tunes, songs and stories which have been handed down from generation to generation.

Cathaoirleach Joe Connaire, that man who feared no obstacle to give us what many will say was one of the greatest Fleadhanna of all time.

Our achievements give us an immense pride in ourselves and our ancestors. Our culture, in its varied and diverse expressions, has been a cohesive and reconciling influence among all communities on the island of Ireland and among the Irish Diaspora worldwide.

As we rejoice in the popularity of Irish traditional music worldwide today, it is perhaps timely to recall the deeds and the vision of those who sowed and cultivated the seed for this bountiful harvest. These are the men and the women who composed, played and passed on our musical heritage from generation to generation. Their enthusiasm inspired and guided many young virtuosos who in turn put their own unique stamp on an ancient music which is ever fresh and vibrant.

We salute those who make the Fleadh possible.

Cathaoirleach Joe Connaire, that man who feared no obstacle to give us what many will say was one of the greatest Fleadhanna of all time here in the cradle of this seismic cultural happening in 1951, and the Mullingar Fleadh are now part of our cherished folklore.

To Joe, the indominable Willie Penrose; the ever-gracious Colette Glynn; the supportive Bishop Tom Deenihan; Westmeath County Council; and especially the 1,300 volunteers for whom no task was too great, we say míle buíochas. You have done us proud and for that you will always be remembered.

The people of Mullingar and Westmeath opened their homes and their hearts to welcome the Fleadh fans from far and near. Many will revisit you to again savour the memory of a lifetime.

Is mór an gaisce atá déanta agaibh le chéile. Tá ár gcultúr in uachtar arís agus tá muinín againn asainn féin. Tá An Comhaltas agus an naísiún go mór faoi chomaoin agaibh. Go raibh rath Dé ar bhúr saothar i gcónaí.

I wish the competitors the very best of luck as they pace each other on the road to excellence.

Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí. I hope to meet many of them at the Fleadh.

Ar aghaidh leis an gceol!

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