Wilfs Clothing Store on Castle Street, Mullingar is thinking outside the box for Fleadh week as construction has begun in-store on a stage for musicians to play on during the Festival.
The stage will be large enough to fit eight people, kitted out with proper lighting and amplification, and it will create the perfect environment for trad music inside the 5,000 sq.ft retail store with enough space for 150 people.
During the course of the week, competitors will be invited in to play a few tunes as well as special guests, who have not yet been confirmed. RTÉ and TG4 are also expected to be filming on site.
This will be the first-time live entertainment will take place in the building since 2002 as it had been the Ritz Cinema up until that point.
The men’s clothing store itself will remain open and the ‘paddy caps’ will be well stocked for the week, said owner Darragh Caffrey. “We’d be very much into promoting the arts as much as we can here in Wilfs and we wanted to get involved actively in the Fleadh so eventually the decision was made that we would put in a permanent fixed stage.
“The idea is to give an alternative feel to the Fleadh so that its not just all about playing in pubs and that people will have another venue option, especially if you don’t want to bring kids to the pub. We’ll have plenty of room for set dancing too.”
The musically-inclined owner said there will be no Christy Moore covers allowed – “strictly trad!”
“It’s not about making money, it’s about playing a part in what is to be a historical moment in the town’s history,” said Darragh, who doesn’t want to look back on the event in 20 years’ time and regret not doing something interesting.
“I don’t expect anything back monetary wise, I’m just happy for people to come in and listen to music. I don’t care if people don’t buy anything, I’m just going to be enjoying the music.
“It’s never been done before. Nobody has heard of a stage being put in a retail store before and this is from lads who have been going to the Fleadh for 20-30 years.”
He also said that the despite common belief, retail is going to benefit hugely from the Fleadh, not just the hospitality sector.
“We will definitely get extra as a menswear shop. People will definitely want to buy. When you’re on a holiday you’d tend to have a little mooch around and buy a few bits. But if we don’t benefit directly during the week of the Fleadh, we will benefit indirectly.
“Another thing is, everyone else in the country is complaining about the price of fuel at the moment and what we’re all talking about down here is the Fleadh. We’ve got this rising tide coming at us and it’s a guaranteed upswing in business for Mullingar. That’s why I want to embrace it.”