WITH just two weeks to go, Athea is gearing up for the return of the Limerick County Fleadh after a gap of 17 years and launched its programme for the event this week.
And it is all shoulders to the wheel to have everything ready and in place and to ensure the Fleadh will be a success on their watch.
As Domhnall de Barra, one of the organisers on the Athea Fleadh Committee explained, previous fleadhanna in Athea were outstanding successes, bringing big crowds to the village.
“This is a big opportunity to showcase our area especially with the decline of rural villages,” Domhnall said.
And with that in mind, the organisers have extended the normal programme to include events to attract a wide range of visitors: among them a singing night, a storytelling night, ceilithe, wrenboy competition, gig rig for street entertainment, busking competition and a special room over the weekend for the promotion of the Irish language.
“This should result in a major boost for the village and a renewed interest in our cultural heritage,” Domhnall said.
“Like anything, it is all down to the weather,” he added. “If you have a fine weekend you will get big crowds.”
The main business of the weekend, of course, are the competitions and venues up and down the village are being commandeered to host these. Entries to the great many competitions taking place have now closed but, Domhnall said, entries have been steadily increasing over the past number of years, thanks in large part to increased numbers of classes but also to increased interest in Irish traditional music.
Athea will kick off the Fleadh weekend with a Storytelling and Traditional Singing night on Wednesday, May 29. Then on Friday night, May 31, there will be the official opening of the fleadh followed by a Wrenboys competition. Saturday will see the start of the competitions which will run throughout the day.
There will be an Aifreann Traidisiúnta on Saturday evening, followed by open air entertainment and the first of two set céilidhe, with the Stríolán Céilí Band. Competitions continue throughout Sunday with Taylor’s Cross playing for the céilí that night. The fleadh will wind up with a street entertainment competition on Monday evening.
Athea Tidy Towns have redoubled their efforts in a bid to have everything shipshape for the Fleadh.
And visitors over the weekend will be able to enjoy the Heritage Trail developed by the committee.
The trail involves 20 points of heritage and/or local interest and plaques have been erected. “We are delighted to have enlisted the services of local illustrator/designer Rachael Grainger to design the map for our heritage trail,” spokesman Damien Ahern said.
“These points will now be mapped in a leaflet which we will make available online and in local businesses”