EVERY year, Abbeyfeale’s ‘Fleadh by the Feale’ creates a haven for traditional music in the pubs and street corners of the West Limerick town.
However this year the event hit a new, exciting milestone that has the potential to turn the festival into one of the premier events in Munster.
Last Sunday almost 600 people squeezed into the main hall at Colaiste Ide agus Iosef for a glamorous, exciting concert by the famous Kilfenora Ceili Band – the headline act at this year’s fleadh and the biggest event ever staged by organisers.
The success of the concert, which took place on a specially-erected stage and also featured a stunning performance by teenage musicians from Colaiste Ide agus Iosef itself, has now provided the fleadh with a template to grow and attract even more visitors in the years ahead.
Maureen Murphy, a member of the event’s organising committee, said that the fleadh once again showed the passion for traditional music locally.
“We were so proud. The standard of music and musicians in Abbeyfeale is absolutely wonderful. I don’t know how we can match what we had this year. It’s thanks to the teachers, the music teachers and also the parents for giving so much encouragement to the children. The standard of music in West Limerick is superb, and it’s known all over the country”.
This year’s fleadh was decidedly bigger and better across the board, from the larger-than-average ‘gig rig’ in the square to the visitors from across Europe who travelled to Abbeyfeale for the long weekend.
The festival began on Thursday night with the presentation of competition prizes to local national school children in the library, which Ms Murphy described as “a fantastic event” which emphasised the festival’s roots in the local community.
Friday’s annual street busking competition was an unfortunate casualty of the changeable weather, and for the first time in 19 years, rain forced the competition indoors.
On Saturday, a soccer tournament featuring teams from Kostal facilities in Span, Germany, England and the Czech Republic took part in an international soccer tournament, which also featured teams from Kostal’s plants in Abbeyfeale and Mallow.
Saturday also saw an impromptu performance by country and western star Declan Nerney, who was passing through Abbeyfeale and joined ‘Sound as a Pound’ on stage in the gig rig for a few songs.
On Saturday night, following successful traditional music and singing workshops at St Ita’s Hall, the gig rig played host to an exciting concert which featured performances by the Templeglantine Comhaltas and Michael O’Brien.
On Sunday the All-Ireland junior bone playing competition took place in the square, which was won by John Forde from Ballaugh, Abbeyfeale.
Sunday night saw the Kilfenora Ceili Band bring the house down at Colaiste Ide agus Iosef.
On Monday, the last major event of the weekend was the All-Ireland senior bone playing championship, which was won by Paddy O’Donovan from Ardagh. Live performances took place in pubs across the town all weekend.