*Fergus Rovers members dancing at The Height in Ennis. Photograph: John Meyler
Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann could be returning to “the home of traditional music” in the next five years if Ennis councillors get their way.
Two years since the world’s largest traditional music festival was held in Clare, a proposal will now be drafted to ensure the Fleadh is back in Ennis within the next five years. It comes following a meeting of the Ennis Municipal District (EMD) on Tuesday where Cllr Pat Daly requested the EMD, Council Executive and local Comhaltas branch work on a proposal to bring back the Fleadh to Clare.
“I have no doubt the 2016 and 2017 Fleadh were both the most successful Fleadh in the last 25 years,” Cllr Daly declared. He recalled a conversation with Council Official, Carmel Greene in which she enlightened him that “there isn’t many towns looking for the Fleadh”. “Ennis can do it whether it’s in 2020 or 2024, we had the success and we will again,” the Fianna Fáil councillor stated.
Fine Gael’s Mary Howard seconded the motion. “Ennis is the correct size and it has perfect accommodation for it,” she said. “The venues were hugely important to Comhaltas, you could walk from to the other and they were all within the town centre”. Howard felt the two recent runs were “a huge boost to the economy” and “it showed we could do festivals very well”.
“Ennis and the whole of the county was showcased so well. So much emphasis was put on the town through social media and Fleadh TV,” Cllr Ann Norton commented. She noted that people who came from far and wide to attend in 2016 and 2017 have returned on subsequent visits to the county. “It is hugely important for Clare and Ennis, we are a musical town and county. From what we’ve heard over the last few years there is a lot of work involved in the paperwork then the amount of money to be raised can put people off. We know it can be a success, it would be wonderful to see it in next 5 years”.
Kilmaley councillor, Tom McNamara also supported the motion. “I know there is a lot of expense involved but it was a huge benefit to the economy and the town”. “It would be great if we could associate it with the refurbishment of Parnell Street to show it off as a vibrant part of the town,” he suggested.
According to Cllr Johnny Flynn, the hosting of the Fleadhanna paved the way for Ennis becoming Ireland’s friendliest town. He estimated that the running cost would be “well over a million” but was keen to see the reputation of music celebrated in the near future, “In this decade of centenaries, music and culture has a huge part to play”.
“Clare is the home of traditional music and I fully support the motion,” Cllr James Breen announced. Mayor of Ennis, Clare Colleran Molloy believed the Fleadh “helped to revitalise” Ennis and that the town “has a special attraction for such an event”. “The key issue is costing, it is a lot of money and a lot of work,” she cautioned. “We will move it as necessary within the Council to get the necessary support”, Colleran Molloy confirmed.
In 2016 it was estimated €38 million was spent in the town while the following year’s event broke records across the board with over 450,000 people attending over the nine days peaking at 100,000 on the Saturday. Drogheda hosted the 2018 Fleadh and will do so again this year.
On Saturday, Mullingar was announced as the venue for the 2020 Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann for the first time since 1963. The Westmeath town beat off competition from Portlaois, Tullamore and Douglas. Drogheda hosts the Fleadh this year having taken over duties from Ennis.