The Fleadh by the Feale committee at the launch in Matt McCoys Bar, Abbeyfeale
ABBEYFEALE’S love affair with traditional music comes to the forefront each year on the May Bank Holiday when Fleadh by the Feale takes over the town for a full five days.
And this year is no different. The 22nd Fleadh kicks off on Thursday, April 28 and it will be almost non-stop music from then until late on Bank Holiday Monday.
Launching the Fleadh programme in Matt McCoy’s in Abbeyfeale last Friday, chairman Pat Quilty said it was “like a well-oiled machine”.
“It runs well. But it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of hard work behind the scenes,” he added.
Dearbhla Conlon Ahern, who has taken over as secretary from the indefatigable Maírín Murphy, admitted it was almost a year round effort. “We start meeting in October,” she said.
Happily, over the years, and despite the economic down-turn, the Fleadh has retained its sponsors. “They are very committed to us,even though the pot might be a bit smaller, ” Ms Conlon Ahern said.
“This is one of the longest running festivals in West Limerick,” Mayor Liam Galvin said at the launch. “They are an outstanding committee and it is very important to the town of Abbeyfeale. The public houses, the hotels and B&Bs and other businesses all benefit and people come from all over the country and even from abroad for the Fleadh.”
And he urged people from across Limerick to come and get a flavour of this year’s event.
For it is the musicians and the audiences that are the real heart of the Fleadh and this year’s “robust” programme would challenge even the stout-hearted.
The jewel in the crown this year however is the celebrity concert on Sunday, May 1 featuring Mary Black and her band. “It’s brilliant we can get somebody of the calibre of Mary Black to perform in Abbeyfeale,” Ms Conlon Ahern said. Students from Coláiste Ide agus Iosef will also perform.
Over the years too, the busking competition has grown in numbers and status and this year the event starts earlier than usual on Friday, April 29 with five age categories.
Two of Abbeyfeale’s best known musicians, Louise and Michelle Mulcahy return home to conduct the master class workshops on flute and concertina respectively on Saturday while other tutors, Bryan O’Leary, Tom Morrow, Niall Murphy, Karen Trench and Aisling Neville run workshops on fiddle, banjo, accordion and singing.
Add in the National Bone Playing Championships, a massive céilí with Stríolán, an Oíche Gaelach lively sessions in every bar and plenty outdoor entertainment from the gig rig in the Square and a lively musical experience is guaranteed.
Tickets for the Celebrity Concert are available from Slice of Life, Main Street Abbeyfeale on 068 32655, Abbey Tiles Main Street on 068 31109, John O’Sullivan on 086 3165848 or Celine McNally on 087 7697672 or see www.fleadhbythe-feale.com