Fleadh Cheoil 2021 Cancelled and Replaced with Online 'FleadhFest'

Fleadh Cheoil 2021 Cancelled and Replaced with Online 'FleadhFest'

Mullingar loses out on second year of hosting Fleadh due to the pandemic.

Fleadh Cheoil na Éireann – the largest of the annual Irish traditional music festivals – has been cancelled for 2021 due to the pandemic.

The week-long festival of competitions, sessions, workshops, broadcasts and concerts normally takes place every year in August. It was meant to take place in Mullingar in 2020 and 2021. This year’s event was cancelled in April, and now Comhaltas has taken the step of cancelling the 2021 event also.

Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner, chairperson of the Fleadh Executive Committee in Mullingar, Joe Connaire, said:

How can you run an event when you can’t talk to big sponsors, when you can’t have meetings. This isn’t something that happens overnight. … We’re looking at another six-week lockdown that will bring us up to the end of November, then you’re into Christmas. You need 12–18 months to organise a fleadh for any town. It is such a monster, between competition venues, sponsorship, health and safety, stage hire, security…

Comhaltas was established in 1951 in Mullingar and the Fleadh Cheoil event would have been a major boost to the town in the organisation’s seventieth year. The cancellation of the festival for both of Mullingar’s scheduled years is a significant blow to the region.

Connaire told the Examiner that Mullingar is still determined to host the Fleadh Cheoil in the future.

We have our money paid to Comhaltas head office – €95,000 for year one, and we will be outlining that money should either be kept in their possession to guarantee us the next fully fledged fleadh, or else, scenario number two is to give us back our money, we’ll pay back our sponsors and we’ll reapply whenever Covid has disappeared. … I would argue the point that Mullingar should be guaranteed the next two fleadhs when it’s physically possible to run the big event. And I’m very strong on that point, as is our committee.

Yesterday (28 October), Comhaltas released a statement saying that Fleadh Cheoil 2021 will be replaced by a virtual event titled ‘FleadhFest’. It says that FleadhFest will ‘link the Irish fireside with the world stage’ and ‘build a bridge of renewal with millions of Fleadh fans worldwide’ 

FleadhFest will provide each province, county and Comhaltas branch worldwide with the opportunity of presenting performances and archive footage online. The format will be a two-hour pre-recorded event that will be broadcast on social media.

For more, see below or visit www.facebook.com/fleadhcheoil.ie 

Published on 29 October 2020

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