Cavan hat-trick as Fleadh 2012 is secured

Whether coupled with confidence or doubt, hope was the common denominator that had a crowd of Cavan Fleadh supporters in the basement of Comhaltas headquarters in Dublin on Saturday alongside Ennis and Sligo counterparts. "How much are you betting?" Cavan mayor Paddy O'Reilly asked Rita Duggan at about 2pm, after soup and sandwiches had been served to sustain those waiting in increasing anticipation. Home from New York for her annual visit, Rita didn't want to set herself up for disappointment. "Hopeful but not too confident" was how she felt. "I was talking to a butcher during the week and he reckoned we have it," Fleadh honorary president, Seamus Fay, said, but Seamus wasn't counting any chickens, estimating Cavan's chances at 70-30. It's when people pre-empt consoling you, that you really get worried. The woman saying "whatever happens, ye ran a great Fleadh and they can't take that away from ye", had this messenger in fear of reporting back with bad news. But it wasn't so. Piercing shrieks of excitement might have shattered champagne glasses had there been any, when Comhaltas's ard-stiuirthoir, Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú, announced that the 29-person vote (taking place upstairs while we had speculated in the basement) had gone in Cavan's favour. Phones were ringing and bleeping with those present spreading the word. "Never in the history of the Fleadh Cheoil had we such detailed and competitive applications," Senator Ó Murchú told the crowd. There was a single vote in the difference, we subsequently heard. The senator shared in Ennis and Sligo's disappointment, because he felt their enthusiasm. He did, however, speak of an idea he would be putting to them for another event. Chairman of Cavan's Fleadh Executive Committee, Jack Keyes, spoke characteristically eloquently. They were overawed, happy, proud and humbled to be granted this great onus and responsibility once again, he said, bidding Ennis and Sligo "your time will come". "We made a promise that if we were to find ourselves going forward again," said Mr Keyes, "we wouldn't do so unless we would do a really good job, even better than the last two". Saying "it's the one word that will drive us", he called for Cavan people to be "creative" in planning Fleadh 2012. Ennis and Sligo spokespersons expressed their disappointment, but wished Cavan well in what Senator Ó Murchú described as "sporting spirit like you'd see in Croke Park". The senator paid tribute to two of the key figures behind Cavan's success: Mr. Keyes ("there's something particularly inspiring about a public person being prepared to take on the role") and Martin Donohoe ("you could say Martin is the logo for the Fleadh Cheoil"). Mr. Keyes paid tribute to Cavan's Oireachtas and elected members. "This is great news for Cavan and for local business," chief whips Andrew Boylan (FG), Charlie Boylan (SF) and Danny Brady (FF) commented. "It will also boost our reputation as a place for tourists to visit." Mayor Paddy O'Reilly, who had travelled to Dublin, said: "I wish the FEC, the Comhaltas County Board and branch members the very best in their ongoing work and I look forward to seeing even more young people participating and learning in this our last year as host town." "I hope Fleadh Cheoil 2012 in Cavan has the capacity to elevate spirits not just locally but nationally and be a key part of telling the world that Ireland is alive and thriving and open for business," commented Sean McKiernan, cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council. "As an emigrant of over 50 years, like many others who visited the town over the course of the Fleadh, I felt mighty proud," former CCÉ president James Teevan told The Anglo-Celt.Mr Keyes concluded that Saturday's vote was "a victory for the people of Cavan whose warmth and hard work over the past two years has been lauded". "The partnership approach between Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, the local authorities and the business community has been successful. I would like to thank all the volunteers with whom we hope to re-engage to make Fleadh 2012 the best ever."