Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, cathaoirleach, Westmeath County Council, and Comhaltas musicians on the Market Square for the launch of this year's fleadh last week.

Official launch of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2023

The atmosphere of the 2022 fleadh was captured in a small way on the Market Square when the 2023 edition was launched on Saturday evening of last week (May 20). The crowd present enjoyed music and dancing and listened as the various speakers thanked and praised last year’s event and everyone who helped to make it happen.

Chief among those were the members of the Fleadh Executive Committee, whose chairman, Joe Connaire, named them all in recognition of the work they had put in, and are putting in again this year.

Joe was the final speaker, but as the MC for the launch, Máirín Uí Mhuirí of Coiste Gaeilge, said ‘we save the best for last’ as she introduced him.

Joe said the theme of the fleadh this year is the homecoming and the diaspora, and in response to anyone who asks how can it be better this year, he said: “We’ll have everyone who was here last year and a lot more, and they will come and roam these streets, listen to the music, tell stories, make new friends, and go home and talk about the great two years that the fleadh was in Mullingar, the home of Comhaltas.”

He said the volunteer organisers had left no stone unturned since they took on the job in 2016, and even after “Covid came and gave us a good kicking, we got up again, and we can’t wait till the 6 to the 14 August.”

Offering praise and thanks to all involved, he added: “The fleadh gave Mullingar the facelift that this town deserved – there wasn’t a power washer left in Chris Lynch’s for the month of July, there wasn’t a bucket of paint to be got in Colourtrend, and I hope the town will do the same again this year, because everyone spoke about how beautiful the town of Mullingar was last August.”

Joe had a long list of other groups and individuals to thank, the sponsors, and main sponsor, North Midlands Credit Union in particular, and all the other sponsors. “And I call on those who have not yet done so to please be a part of it this year, because it costs in the region of €1.7m to host this, and we’re raising it as volunteers, so I appeal to the business people of the town, you’re going to get the payback, you’re going to get the crowd, and just be part of it, because when it’s gone, it’s gone. We want everyone to be a part of it, so please support us in what we’re trying to achieve.”

He thanked Minister Catherine Martin, Deputy Robert Troy and Minister Peter Burke, Westmeath County Council, the volunteers, “Tidy Towns, the schools, the parish, Bishop Deenihan, Fr Phil, Rev Alastair, Mullingar Town Band, arts centre staff, An Garda Síochána”; and said everyone can help by buying tickets for the car draw and the various concerts scheduled for fleadh week.

“I’ll finish by asking everyone again to get involved in helping us in any little way you can, make Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann memorable for everyone – we want the fleadh to be spoken about for years to come, as a superb fleadh for two years in Mullingar. We’re a proud people, we’re passionate about traditional Irish music and culture, it’s in our blood here and that’s why we put on a huge show last year and why we’re going to do it bigger and better this year.”

The other speakers at the launch were Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, cathaoirleach, Westmeath County Council; Éamonn Ó hArgáin, uachtarán Chomhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann; Labhrás Ó Murchú director-general CCÉ; and from the sponsors, Derek Smith, North Midlands Credit Union, and Paddy Mathews, Fáilte Ireland.