The streets of Cavan during the 2010 Fleadh Cheoil. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

Fleadh committee planning full event for 2022

The organising committee for the Mullingar Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann are planning for a full event in August 2022 and hope to organise a public meeting in the coming months, pending further easing of Covid-19 restrictions in October.

Mullingar was due to hold the Fleadh in 2020 and 2021, but the outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus in March of last year led to the annual celebration of Irish traditional music and culture being called off for the two years.

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann have since given the nod for Mullingar to host the event in August 2022, and with that date in mind, Fleadh committee chairman Joe Connaire says the organisers are picking up where they left off last year to deliver what will be the most highly anticipated Fleadh in decades.

“We have a lot of work done, but with Covid you have to re-examine every sub-committee because there’s a lot of venues required for the running of the Fleadh, and as of now we’re not sure whether we’ll have half, 60 percent or full capacity,” Joe told the Westmeath Examiner.

“We’re planning for a full event, and hopefully by next August there’ll be no restrictions. If we plan for a full-scale event, we can always scale back. If we planned for something less, then it would be harder to scale it up if restrictions weren’t there any more.

“So it’s all hands on deck to put together a full event, guided at every stage by government restrictions and guidelines. The committee will be electing a Covid officer, and playing by the rules at all times. “Again, we’ll be looking for volunteers, and for people to volunteer their homes for accommodation.”

The Covid-19 outbreak was a hammer blow of epic proportions, but Joe says that it only makes the committee more determined to up the ante for 2022.

“It was demoralising, especially for the committee. We’re all volunteers who did a serious amount of preparation work, taking up many hours, and all for the good of everyone in our town and county, and local businesses,” he explained.

“Calling off the Fleadh was the right call, but it was such a shell-shock. We were almost there with our planning, and for it all to come to a halt left morale very low.

“So much work has been put in so far that looking ahead to 2022, we’ll leave no stone unturned to make it a memorable event.”

With people having lost out on the magic of the Fleadh for two years, Joe reckons there will be a huge pent-up demand for a spectacular event in Mullingar.

“The talk abroad and in America is that people are really looking forward to coming to Mullingar, and with that in mind we’d be hoping to beat the figures from Drogheda in 2019, where over 500,000 people attended the Fleadh over the course of the week,” he added.

“We will be on the sponsorship trail again and we will still need approximately €1.5 million to stage the event. We know that businesses have been hit very hard during Covid, but we have to underline the serious business this will bring to the town and county, and I’m sure business people will get behind it. It’s a massive cultural event, and we won’t see the like of it in our lifetime again.

“If it is the full-scale event we expect that there will be over half a million people coming through Mullingar during the week of the Fleadh.

“Westmeath County Council are fully behind us, we have some excellent main sponsors lined up, so it’s full steam ahead, and hopefully we can get there in the context of Covid.”

Joe said that pending a full lifting of restrictions on October 22, there are plans to hold a public meeting in early November, when press releases and other literature will be circulated detailing fundraising plans.

From that meeting, the committee will have the guts of nine months to fine-tune their already advanced plans for a Mullingar Fleadh. “Hopefully we’ll hit the ground running,” Joe concluded.