By Damien Maher
Ahead of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Mullingar in August, the call has gone out for volunteers and accommodation to cater for 500,000 visitors. The Fleadh Cheoil is worth in the region of €50m to the local economy, a massive boost after two very difficult years.
Joe Connaire, Chairman of the Mullingar Fleadh Committee, made the appeal for volunteers at last Saturday’s Open Day at the Market Square, Mullingar, where people got a chance to glean more information about getting involved in the organisation of this year’s event. “We need approximately 1,400 volunteers,” he stressed.
“There’s a huge requirement for volunteers, for even giving directions on the street, litter picking, just to be involved in the huge event that this is – half a million people will be in town.
“We are also informing local people how to rent out their house or whatever number of rooms they have. We are looking for people to get involved and help us out in that regard because all our visitors will need a place to stay.”
People are urged to contact the Fleadh office on 044 93 38954 to register their accommodation, or to do so online at fleadhcheoil.ie.
There was certainly a buzz around The Market Square in Mullingar all afternoon despite the bitterly cold weather conditions. Joe Connaire was enthused by the response to the Open Day and with how people have begun socialising again since the Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.
“We’re back after the lockdown that everyone dreaded for the last couple of years. I was at a concert Friday night in the Mullingar Arts Centre with 420 people and it brought a tear to a lot of people’s eyes because they were back indoors at an event. Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is going to take place this year and people are feeling fantastic about that,” he said.
“We have missed out on two years and I feel that, because of the great history of comhaltas in Mullingar and because of missing out on two years, everyone wants to come to the Fleadh this year. More and more people will come and I think it will be the biggest Fleadh every seen in this country.
“The sessions are back in The Chambers (Mount St.) every Thursday night and we’re back in the bar again. We used to be out the back! It’s intimate, it’s close and everyone can have the chat.”