BASED on the Sligo experience, Ennis Chamber is expecting a major increase in crowds for Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.
Chamber president William Cahir said figures provided by the organisers of the Fleadh in Sligo reveal a major increase in footfall from 900,000 in year one to 1.2 million in the second year.
Mr Cahir said there is also evidence of people living abroad travelling in huge numbers to sample the great music and atmosphere at the festival.
“If the weather holds up, we would expect much bigger crowds this year, particularly for the main weekend. Some people stayed away last year, due to the inclement weather,” he noted.
“The reputation the Fleadh gained from the superb quality of the music in Ennis last year will also attract large crowds,” he added.
The office in the Market has confirmed that most of the accommodation providers in the county town are effectively full. Most enquiries for accommodation are for Friday, August 18 to Monday, August 21.
A spokesperson said a lot of people who attended Scoil Éigse last year re-booked places with the same accommodation providers.
Fleadh chairman Frank Whelan said all the preparations are now in place for a “fantastic celebration of all the best that Irish traditional music has to offer over the 10 days of the festival”.
Mr Whelan said huge numbers have booked classes in Scoil Éigse, while concerts are selling fast, with some already sold out.
“The executive committee is delighted with how things have gone to prepare for the Fleadh. It involved a huge commitment for the committee but all the hard work over the last year will come to fruition during the festival,” he said.
Mr Cahir stressed that Ennis is “open for business” during the Fleadh. “Sometimes, as local people, we forget that Ennis is the 11th largest urban centre in Ireland and has an ability to accommodate large crowds,” he commented.
“Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is not only an opportunity to showcase Ennis to the world but also an opportunity for the town to showcase itself to the rest of the county.”
Mr Cahir said that, in the earlier part of the week last year, a number of road closures appeared to be peremptory. This year, in conjunction with Clare County Council, it has been organised that access to the town is maintained for as long as possible, to allow people to come to town and carry out their regular business.
“The benefit of hosting Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann for a second year running is that valuable lessons can be learned from the first year. For a lot of businesses in Ennis, the delaying of the large-scale road closures until August 17 is to be welcomed. The over-preparedness of 2016 will hopefully have demonstrated to the customers and clients of Ennis businesses that the town is open for business during the Fleadh week. The council has delayed the implementation of wider road closures, which will allow customers to come to Ennis for their shopping, back-to-school needs and regular business,” Mr Cahir continued.
Ennis Chamber has asked all of its members to use their social media platforms to ensure the message is properly communicated that the presence of the Fleadh within the town is not a reason to stay away but more of a reason to come and visit.
By Dan Danaher