President Michael D Higgins in Drogheda. PHOTO: RICHARD WRIGHT

President Higgins opens Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Drogheda

Today saw a huge crowd of visitors gather from far and wide to the heart of  Ireland’s Ancient East to see President Michael D. Higgins officially launch the biggest public attended event in Ireland and the largest celebration of Irish tradition and culture, Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2019.

President Higgins is a regular visitor, as well as Patron, to the festival.

In his speech, the President built on his previous speeches, in which he had often highlighted the importance of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in spreading Irish music and culture throughout the world.

Dr. Lábhrás Ó Murchú, Ardstiúrthóir of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann commented;  “We are very pleased that Uachtarán na hÉireann President Michael D. Higgins is here with us again for this year’s Fleadh.

“For many years he has been a regular attendee and we have always been inspired by his knowledge and sentiments with regard to the cultural traditions of Ireland.


His presence is an acknowledgment of the outstanding achievment of the 1500 volunteers who make the Fleadh such a successful and unique world event which attracts over 500,000 people from across the globe.”

Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2019 offers Drogheda and the surrounding region a unique opportunity to showcase itself on both a national and international stage. With up to 500,000 people expected to visit the region for the weeklong festival for the second consecutive year, organisers are committed to promoting Drogheda and County Louth as a world-class tourist destination, with the aim of becoming the cultural capital of Ireland’s Ancient East.

The Chief Executive of Louth County Council, Joan Martin said, “Hosting the Fleadh in 2018 resulted in significant long-term economic benefits for Drogheda and County Louth. This year’s event will shine a spotlight on County Louth and the surrounding region, it will allow us to showcase a town which has transformed over the past decade. 

"We are looking forward to celebrating the week long event and would like to thank all of those involved from the Louth County Council, Fleadh Executive Committee and all of the volunteers who have come together to make Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann another memorable experience for Drogheda, showing that the community spirit of the town is alive and well.

County Louth has a long-established and extensive arts, heritage and cultural programme. The Fleadh will further underpin this, whilst also enhancing our flourishing Creative Ireland programme.”

Ardstiúrthóir of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Lábhrás Ó Murchú made a short address to the crowd and the ceremony also saw a formal welcome from Mayor Cllr. Paul Bell and music from Oriel Resident Performers.

A presentation was made to President Higgins and Sabina by Lolo Robinson, Chairperson of the Fleadh Executive Committee and Joan Martin, Chief Executive of Louth Country Council.

The President built on his previous speeches, in which he had often highlighted the importance of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in spreading Irish music and culture throughout the world. PHOTO: RICHARD WRIGHT

After the opening ceremony, President Higgins walked through Drogheda town along Fair Street and Duke Street embracing the community spirit created by locals and visitors alike. President Higgins met many of the performers and organisers of the Fleadh along with members of the public during his visit.

Cathaoirleach of the Fleadh Executive Committee Lolo Robinson said, “The people of Drogheda and the surrounding areas embraced the 2018 Fleadh with a heart and a half and we are really looking forward to welcoming visitors and performers into Drogheda again this year for Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2019.

There has been a huge increase in all things Irish since the Fleadh last year and as this year marks the 50th anniversary of Drogheda Comhaltas , I cannot think of a better way to pay tribute to our founding members than hosting Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2019.”

Other events that take place today include Eleanor McEvoy & Damon Butcher: The Thomas Moore Project and The RTÉ Concert Orchestra with Zoë Conway  and John McIntyre.

Eleanor McEvoy achieved star status in Ireland in 1992 when her song A Woman's Heart was the title track for the A Woman's Heart anthology album. A Woman’s Heart has since gone on to become the best- selling album in Irish history.

Her recent album The Thomas Moore Project (2017) features 21st century adaptations of the songs of the 18th/19th century Irish poet Thomas Moore. It became RTE’s album of the week the week it was released and received rave reviews in Ireland.

RTÉ Concert Orchestra return to Drogheda after a truly memorable Boyneside Dome-Concert in 2018. The indefatigable and ebullient orchestra under the baton of David Brophy perform in a special Fleadh programme of classic and new traditional compositions, with soloist Zoë Conway (fiddle, vocals) and John McIntyre (guitar).