Drogheda was this week named as the host town for Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2018. The event is the world’s largest annual celebration of Irish music, language, song and dance. It attracts 400,000 visitors to the host town every year.
The event is organised by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. It will be hosted in conjunction with a local team in Louth led by Louth County Council and Drogheda Comhaltas.
"It's been a five year long campaign to reach this day, " Lolo Robinson, chairperson of Drogheda Comhaltas, explained.
"We've been supported since day one by Louth County Council. We couldn't have achieved this success without their unequivocal support. Louth County Council and our team of dedicated volunteers from Drogheda Comhaltas and the wider community have campaigned tirelessly to win every crucial vote. We were hopeful, very hopeful, that the vote would go our way today. But you can't be sure until all votes have been cast and counted. We are so grateful for each Ard Comhairle member who entrusted us with their vote.”
Chief Executive of Louth County Council Joan Martin was delighted with the announcement. "This truly is a momentous day for Drogheda and indeed for all of County Louth. Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is a mammoth week-long event that will showcase all that the region has to offer to a huge audience. The eyes of the world will be on us. Over 32 hours of television is broadcast from the Fleadh. Countless radio shows and print and online journalists will cover the Fleadh, along with a host of travel and tourism writers. This is an amazing opportunity to showcase the beauty and vibrancy of the town and the region.”
Drogheda and its hinterland stand to gain immensely from hosting Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.
Mayor of Drogheda, Cllr. Oliver Tully continued: “It is estimated that hosting Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is worth nearly €40million to the local economy. That’s money spent in local shops, cafes, restaurants, transport, pubs and hotels. With over 400,000 visitors, it is also a fabulous way of introducing new people to the region and creating really happy memories. We want to create an experience at the Fleadh that will keep people coming back to Drogheda again and again in the future. It’s true to say that Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann will be the largest marketing opportunity ever for the town.”
Ms. Martin confirmed that Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann will be a focal point in Louth's Creative Ireland Action Plan for the coming years. “Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is a chance for local people to experience Irish music, language, song and dance for themselves in a way they masy not have done before. We will be encouraging people across the county to be part of the Fleadh and to enjoy this dynamic cultural experience on their doorstep.”
Local T.D. Fergus O’Dowd has been part of the campaign since the very start. Speaking at the Culturlann on Saturday he said “Beidh fáilte is fiche roimh gach duine i Droichead Átha is beidh an ceol is craic ar feabhais.”
Lolo explained: “This is not just a Comhaltas event. It is not just a Louth County Council event. It is an event that will overtake the whole town. It will belong to the town and its people. It was a huge voluntary effort to make this happen in the first place. And the teamwork right across the local community will continue as we move into the planning stage. We are determined to make Fleadh Drogheda the biggest and best Fleadh yet. We are confident that the people of our brilliant town will help this dream come true.”
Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2018 will take place from Sunday 12th August to Sunday 19th August. It will feature workshops for young musicians, competitions, concerts, céili’s and lots of fun on the streets of Drogheda throughout the week. For more information follow FleadhDrogheda on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, visit: www.fleadhdrogheda.com.
Lolo concluded “This will be an amazing experience for this region and our people … there’s a role for everyone, be part of our team and join in this fantastic adventure. It’s going to be amazing!”