Yep, the feet are tapping, the spoons are hopping on the back of my knee and I’m thinking about buying a bodhran.
Mixed Blessings - Kevin Blessing
The Fleadh Ceol is over and the music is still buzzing around my head. It was a wonderful week and showcased everything that is wonderful about being Irish.
In fairness, we have given ourselves a bit of an auld kicking over the last couple of years. What with bankers and economic crises and negative equity and ghost estates and unemployment and a dysfunctional health service and well you know .. . . . all that, it’s been hard not to be down on ourselves, hard not to think of ourselves as a bunch of eejits.
I think we all needed a little something to put a bounce in our step, a little pride in our chests and a little bit of self worth about who and what we are.
Yes, I know you can’t turn on a news bulletin without hearing about how we are turning corners, and more jobs are being created and house prices are increasing. In fairness if we turn any more corners we will be back where we started, but more of that anon.
For those of us that have stuck out the last few years, that have taken the pain and that see some glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel now a week of Fleadh Ceol na hEireann was just what the doctor ordered.
Firstly fair play to the organising committee who have been working over the last number of months to make Sligo look well.
There was hardly a receptacle in the county that wasn’t stuffed full of blooming flowers. There was an army of volunteers picking up the stray wrappers before they even hit the ground.
The traffic management, parking, the signage, the schools, the concerts, basically the whole thing went well, it was run professionally and that just makes all the difference when you are going out to try and enjoy yourself.
But it was the music that made it, the smiling faces of the people from many places, the tapping toes and random sessions, the pints of porter and the general camaraderie and universality of music, and in this case Irish music.
I mean there were Russians from Vladivostok with a cupla focal more than you and me. There were Yanks that could make an uilleann pipe cry the sweetest tune and there were even German Sean Nos Dancers. I mean seriously how did that ever even happen!!
To see this international brigade of people descend on our little corner of the world to roll up their sleeves, take a sup of a pint of plain and start belting out the tunes on the fiddles like it was the most natural thing in the world really did make me think for the first time in a while, that maybe we do come from the best little country of them all after all.
Walking around the Fleadh, I could see how the different shops and pubs and restaurants were working together to put the best foot forward for the event.
That includes a lot of local businesses digging deep to come up with over €330,000 in sponsorship to go towards defraying the overall cost of the event of around €860,000.
That’s a lot of money and a big leap of faith, but it is one that has paid off, BIG TIME. I will go so far as to make a prediction.
Next year’s Fleadh will be even bigger and will go down in history as the biggest most successful Fleadh in the event’s history.
The customer satisfaction rating among the people I spoke to was somewhere between delighted and ecstatic. They loved the compactness of the town, they loved the set up, the river running through the middle of the town, the flowers, the organisation and of course the music.
Many of these people will comeback to Sligo as visitors again, what this has done for the reputation of the county is immeasurable.
The return on that investment will be huge for the area. It is estimated that the Fleadh could be worth around €40 million to the local economy.
A Failte Ireland study came up with a figure of it benefiting Cavan to the tune of €39.4m in 2012, while in Derry last year the income for the city was estimated at £50m sterling.
So a huge coup for Sligo, a fantastic Fleadh and one that will only be better next year.
A reason to be proud to be Irish, great culture, great craic and great tunes.
The very best of who we are as a nation taking over a town for the week. From talented teens to mad Japanese that wish they were Irish, it was all there to see.
Only really one question to ask now, when’s the All Ireland Fleadh coming to Leitrim?
Kevin Blessing presents The Breakfast Club on Ocean FM, weekdays from 7-9am.
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