Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The Fleadh Effect: Festival causes surge in traditional Irish music interest locally

Following on from the global exposure of Mullingar’s successful hosting of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, a surge in interest in traditional Irish music has swept through Mullingar and the midlands.

The Mullingar branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is set to harness this interest with the return of its weekly classes, which return on Thursday, 14 September at Áras an Mhuilinn.

Busy preparing for the return of classes at Áras an Mhuilinn are Mullingar CCÉ members Máirín Uí Mhuirí and Geraldine Cornally, who have spoken fondly of this year’s Fleadh.

“It was just brilliant,” said Geraldine. “There was so much more of a crowd as well. It was fantastic to see the young musicians playing on the street and not being afraid to play.”

CCÉ Mullingar members with their instruments ahead of the return of classes on 14 September

Geraldine’s views were echoed by Máirín. “We had more than 50 children playing on the Gig Rig together. When will they get an opportunity again to play in front of thousands of people like that? It’sa huge opportunity for the children to perform and boost their self-confidence.”

Máirín and Geraldine say hosting Fleadh Cheoil in Mullingar for two years has resulted in a “Fleadh effect”, which has resulted in a significant rise in people learning a traditional Irish musical instrument.

“We had adults as well as children starting after the Fleadh last year. It was the Fleadh that inspired them. For many of those it was a lifelong plan that they planed to do, but never got around to doing it. One little girl came in to learn the whistle, just so she could busk at the Fleadh this year!”

Bodhrán players Ellen Clarke, Luke Molony and Amy Lucas

Máirín says Mullingar’s hosting of Fleadh Cheoil will be remembered for many years to come.

“Mullingar will be remembered for this Fleadh for the rest of this century. People are going to be talking about it for years to come. The Fleadh has inspired children to practice more.They could see the interest and they could see why they’re doing it. When a child starts with something, it’s kind of just hard work.They don’t see why they’re doing it. The Fleadh gave them the opportunity to see music in action.”

All set for the return of Mullingar CCÉ classes is Senan Conry has been playing the concertina, banjo and tin whistle for over two years. A third class pupil at Scoil Mhuire, Loughegar, Senan took part in various Fleadh competitions in Mullingar this year and in 2022. He was also busking on the streets of Mullingar during the Fleadh, entertaining the public. “It was really great,” he said. The musical man recommends anyone with an interest in Irish music to give a go. “It’s great fun!” he said.

Flautist Kaila Scally at Áras an Mhuilinn

Registration for classes at Áras an Mhuilinn, Mullingar will take place at 6pm on Thursday, 7 September. Classes are being offered in tin whistle, flute, button accordion, fiddle, banjo, concertina, bodhrán and sean nós dancing. Weekly halfhour classes begin on Thursday, 14 September.

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