ABBEYFEALE is buzzing due to the 20th year of Fleadh by the Feale which kicked off this Thursday evening and continues, in a non-stop round of ceol agus céiliúradh, until Monday.
Then, on Monday night, a giant fireworkds display will mark and celebrate the 20th anniversary and bring down the curtain on what the organisers hope will be one of their best fleadhs ever.
And there is plenty to justify that hope in yet another year of a packed programme.
One of the hightlights of this weekend is expected to be the celebrity concert on Sunday night when Sharon Shannon and her Band are the headline act. But local musicians will, as always, do the warm-up.
Tickets are selling well for the concert, Fleadh secretary Maureen Murphy said this week.
The new hall in Coláiste Iosef agus Ide can take a much larger audience than the old one, she pointed out and that poses both an opportunity and a challenge. “There is always a great atmosphere at these concerts and that is what we want again this year,” Ms Murphy said. But the push is on to ensure the hall is full.
The Fleadh opens this Thursday with the prize-giving for the primary pupils’ art competition in the library and continues in Murphy’s Bar with an Oíche Ghaelach, with comhrá agus caidreamh as Gaeilge.
The busking competition, which takes place on Friday evening, has grown to become a major feature of the weekend programme, attracting large numbers of groups, and particularly groups of young musicians. Later the same evening, the Stríolán Céilí Band will play for the céilí mór in the GAA club.
From the very beginning, the Fleadh by the Feale organisers have put a great emphasis on passing on the music and the tradition, using the medium of workshops. And Fleadh 2014 is no different with master workshops in singing, fiddle, banjo, flute, accordeon and concertina, all overseen by top-notch musicians.
The Fleadh also manages to balance the old faithfuls with the excitement of the new. This year, for example, the All-Ireland bone-playing championship will take place yet again on the afternoono of Bank Holiday Monday , an unique event which almost single-handedly has kept the art alive. But a new trad group Moxie will also get their chance to shine when they take to the gig-rig on Saturday evening as part of the free, on-street entertainment. They will be preceded on stage by Templeglantine Comhaltas Ceoltóirí and the all-Ireland champions, the Spa-Killarney Set Dancers.
Throughout the weekend, there will be free, open-air entertainment on the gig-rig in the Square as well as lots of sessions in local bars. The fireworks display will take place at 10pm on Monday evening.
“The committee works hard to make Fleadh b y the Feale possible but we also recognise it is important to have local involvement,” Ms Murphy said, paying tribute to the community and the business community for their support and to their main sponsosrs, Kostal Ireland, Heineken, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí and Limerick County Council Arts Office.