Mullingar's Homecoming Fleadh ends on a high note

Joe Connaire thanks 'dedicated team of volunteers'

Fleadh Cheoil in Mullingar comes to an end tonight, following a week-long celebration that attracted more 500,000 to the town.

This significant Homecoming to Westmeath has been celebrated both nationally and internationally, as the town of Mullingar marks the Fleadh’s momentous return after nearly 60 years.

Over the course of the week, the town of Mullingar hosted more than 500,000 visitors. Thousands of competitors from Ireland and abroad went head-to-head to take home All-Ireland titles in over 180 competitions - with many local winners.

Hundreds of students took part in Scoil Éigse, the annual Comhaltas Summer School, where folks of all ages and backgrounds come together to take part in various music, singing, dancing and Irish language classes.

Some of the most magical moments from the week included an uplifting opening ceremony by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, a special performance by Ukrainian refugees who have found solace in the town of Mullingar; an award ceremony for former Taoiseach Brian Cowen for his long-time commitment to Comhaltas and the Inaugural Ashling Murphy Scholarships were awarded to musicians, Lisa Ward, Caoimhe Maddigan and Jason McGuinness by parents of the late Ashling Murphy at the The Comhaltas National Folk Orchestra.

Last, but not least the ‘Boithrin Smaointe’ Commemorative Concert took place to reflect on the origins of Comhaltas and the families of Co. Westmeath who were instrumental in building Comhaltas and Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann – from a small gathering of 400 in 1951 to the monumental world-renowned gathering it has become.

Joe Connaire, Chairperson of the Fleadh Executive Committee said, "It’s been a privilege to host this year’s Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Mullingar. We are so proud of the town and the surrounding community for coming together and creating a really memorable celebration. We’d also like to thank our dedicated team of volunteers who were complimented throughout the week for their dedication and hard work. Everything from the gig rigs, to street performances and of course the competitions were warmly received, with Fleadh goers once again showing that the spirit of traditional music is still alive and well across not only Ireland, but the globe!"

Speaking about the event, the Árdstiúrthóir of Comhaltas Labhrás Ó Murchú said;

"The Fleadh has been an outstanding success against a background of two years of exceptional challenge. The hundreds of thousands of people who have converged on Mullingar from every part of Ireland and right across the world have been expressing their joy at being reunited with friends and colleagues at the Fleadh."

He continued; "The Fleadh committee in partnership with Westmeath County Council have done an exceptional job. The tens of thousands of musicians in attendance have been enjoying one of the best fleadhs in the history of the festival. We are so pleased that we have three applications to host the Fleadh in 2023. They are Mullingar (who will obviously be front runners), Belfast and Wexford. The decision will be made by the Árdchomhairle of Comhaltas on 3RD September, 2022. Estimated attendance figures are believed to be similar to pre-Covid fleadhanna, which were in the region of 500,000."