Members of the County Fleadh Organising Committee in Belturbet are considering a bid to host the County Fleadh in 2023. They are (in no particular order): Mary Lennon, Tom Meehan, Marie Smith, Patria McCaffrey, Alison Murphy, Geraldine Smith, Antonia Sheridan, Ann Grogan, Sinead McKiernan, Deirdre O’Gorman, Veronica McGovern, and Sheila Enirght. Missing from photo: Orla Lynch.

Belturbet to try for three in a row?

The town of Belturbet and its local Comhaltas branch are considering their options regarding hosting the Cavan Fleadh in 2023.

The application, if successful, would see the Erneside town host the county celebration of traditional music, language and dance for a third year, outside of the pandemic-imposed two-year hiatus (2020 & 2021).

Chair of Belturbet Comhaltas and the Fleadh organising committee, Ann Grogan, confirmed that tentative enquiries have been made, but “there was a long road, and a lot of discussions” yet to take place before any decision is rubber-stamped.

Buoyed by the success of events in 2019, and most recently, over last June Bank Holiday weekend, Ann said: “We’re really so thankful for the positivity of the response we’ve received, to our sponsors and other local business, our volunteers, the musicians and entertainers, and everyone else who made what happened possible.”

It took close to six months of hard work, and near nightly meetings in the run up to the start date, to put in place all that took place for Cavan County Fleadh.

With good weather also playing its part, and a strong line up of events, including a mish-mash of attractions centred around the chosen theme - the humble potato- it is estimated that several thousand people visited Belturbet over the three days.

“After all the stop-start for the last couple of years, it was wonderful we were able to progress with our fleadh plans,” says Ann. “The amount of people who passed through the Fleadh Office, attended workshops, the streets were buzzing with activity, every day was really busy. The sessions were fabulous, and it was a great opportunity to release the pressure value.”

If Belturbet do throw their hat into the ring, they may face competition from neighbours Killeshandra and Cootehill, the latter of which previously hosted an Ulster Fleadh.

Martin Donohoe of Cavan Nyah said he would be hugely supportive of seeing Belturbet host the Cavan County Fleadh yet again in 2023, describing it as a “town tailor made” for such events.

“It was a well run fleadh, and people said it was good practice for how these things should be organised. The town has a history there with the ‘Festival of the Erne’. There are real positive vibes for the [Belturbet fleadh organising committee] to move forward on this. The most important thing in any fleadh is that the competitions run well, and I have to say Belturbet got that right. There was no big distance between venues, everything ran as it should, and the events on the street were a marvellous spectacle, a reminder of an atmosphere we’d missed for too long.” Ann meanwhile reminds that the fun and festivities of the 2022 Cavan County Fleadh aren’t dispensed with yet, and as per their potato theme, come Autumn they’ll harvest a bounty planted back in March and host a “seisiún” that everyone is invited to attend.

Junior musicians will swap instruments for shovels and dig the ridge planted at a newly-established community allotment in the grounds of the former Belturbet Railway Station. “We’ll have a harvest celebration and a session as well, with potato bread, boxty and everything else. Everyone loves a spud,” says Ann. “We lost a lot over the past two years. I feel what a lot of people have taken from our fleadh in Belturbet is the sense of community, of togetherness, playing music, or sitting and chatting. It has been a wonderful experience.”