'A privilege to be here together as we launch Fleadh Cheoil'

“It is a very great privilege to be here again as we launch together Fleadh Cheoil 2022,” said President Michael D Higgins, as he officially launched the event on the NMCU Gig Rig this afternoon. “Is there anywhere better to do it than where fleadh was founded in 1951.”

There was a huge crowd in the Blackhall car park to welcome the president, who was joined on the stage by the Fleadh Executive Committee and senior members of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, and where he gave an address, celebrating more than 70 years of Comhaltas, and the celebration of Irish music, dance, song, storytelling and comhrá gaeilge.

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina with musicians Bernie Boland (left) Daniel Boland and Niamh Glynn, from Ballymore Comhaltas at the official opening of the Fleadh Cheoil na Ireland in Mullingar. Photo: Robbie Reynolds

Addressing the crowd, the Fleadh Executive Committee chairperson Joe Connaire said: “We are so pleased to have finally arrived at this momentous gathering. We are very proud that Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann has returned to its roots here in Mullingar, where the first ever Fleadh took place; organised by founding members of Comhaltas.

“From just a few hundred people in attendance all those years ago, to the hundreds of thousands who will flock to the county this year, the fleadh is intrinsic in preserving the legacy of Irish traditional music, dance and culture.”

Labhrás Ó Murchú, Ardstiúrthóir of Comhaltas, described the fleadh as “the Olympics of traditional Irish music”.

He said: “Over the last 70 years, thousands of performers who won laurels at the fleadh, became household names. From those small beginnings in 1951, the new cultural movement of Comhaltas spread throughout Ireland and worldwide. It was a virtual cultural revolution with huge economic and tourism benefits for Ireland.”

Marta Paul (left) Darian Corcoran and Alannah Fanning, members of the Mullingar Town Band, awaiting President Michael D Higgins. Photo: Robbie Reynolds

Highlight events this year include:

Martin Hayes and the Common Ground Ensemble, Sharon Shannon, The Bridge Céili Band, Daithí Gormley, Frankie Gavin and Catherine McHugh, Téada, IMAR, Seamus Begley, Sean Keane and Emmet Cahill, Anúna, Kilfenora Céili Band, Damien Mullane, Moxie, Four Winds, Meitheal Orchestra, The Blackwater Céili Band, Breaking Trad, The Full Set, Alp Luachra, Eiru, the Árd-Ollamh presentation (recipient Peadar Ó Riada), Bardic Awards presentation (recipients Mick Foster, Noel Battle, Sarah Ghriallais, Helena Rowsome and Padraig Sinnott), the commemorative ‘Bóithrín na Smaointe’ concert celebrating 70 years of Comhaltas, the week-long Scoil Éigse summer school of traditional Irish music, song and dance, to name but a few.

Emma Langan (left) with Kayleigh Egerton and Katie Gaffney form The Downs National School. Photo: Robbie Reynolds

The Comhaltas National Folk Orchestra will perform their new suite of music Athnuachan on August 5 at 8pm. It will include a special musical tribute to the late Ashling Murphy and in whose memory, scholarships will be presented.

A special performance by a group of Ukrainian musicians who are also learning English at the Cultural Centre, will take place in the town centre.

The most important events are the 150 competitions where people from all over the world compete through music, song, dance and Comhrá Gaeilge.

For more information about the concerts or to buy tickets visit fleadhcheoil.ie.

The event feature two Gig Rigs, street performances and cultural events in various venues including Scoil Éigse, a school that provides workshops, lectures and sessions during the week of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.

Book tickets at: fleadhcheoil.ie/events/

Lauren Farrelly, age 6 from Devlin. Photo: Robbie Reynolds
Musician, Leila Noone, enjoing the fun at the official opening of the Fleadh Cheoil Éireann. Photo: Robbie Reynolds
Eoin Fulham, age 5 from Mullingar, at the official opening of the Fleadh Cheoil. Photo: Robbie Reynolds
Alice Hyland, age 10, from St Tolas National School, Devlin, at the official opening of the Fleadh Cheoil. Photo: Robbie Reynolds
Photo: Robbie Reynolds