THE final countdown to Ennis’ hosting of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors to the county capital, is set to begin next week.
Members of the working group in Ennis, along with representatives of the local authority, are travelling to this year’s host town of Sligo. On the final day of the celebrations, Sunday, August 16, the official handover of the Fleadh from Sligo to Ennis will be made.
According to chairman of the working group, Mícheál Ó Riabhaigh, “Having the Fleadh here in Ennis is a huge event for us; it’s a challenge we have been waiting five years for and we’re really looking forward to it.”
The handover, after which Ennis will officially be the Fleadh town, will take place at the closing ceremony, when the winners of the senior céilí band competition will play on the gig rig.
“The countdown starts immediately then. From then on, Ennis will be the Fleadh town and while 12 months might seem like a long enough time away, in reality, a lot of the tasks that we have to undertake would take months. The preparations in some respects can take a long time and 12 months goes by very quickly when you are busy,” Mícheál Ó Riabhaigh stated.
Mr Ó Riabhaigh said the Ennis contingent will be using their time in Sligo wisely.
“Myself and Frank Whelan will be there for the full week and we will be doing a lot of work on the ground, just to see how everything works. We’ve been to the last four or five fleadhanna but this time around, we will be doing some serious analysis to make sure we learn from the guys in Sligo, who have done this for two years.”
He continued, “Representatives from the council, the fire services, gardaí and other emergency service personnel will also be there, meeting with their counterparts in Sligo.
“Sligo did a very good job with the Fleadh, it’s an enormous undertaking to manage something that brings 300,000 visitors to a town in a relatively short period of time. Their assistance will be very helpful to us, particularly in terms of crowd and traffic management. There is a huge amount to learn and our guys will be up there. What we have learned from previous fleadhanna is that it’s the passing on of expertise that really makes it achievable.”
County CEO, Tom Coughlan; director of services, Ger Dollard and Mayor of Ennis, Pat Daly, are expected to be among the council contingent representing Ennis in Sligo