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Comhaltas impressed with Fleadh bid

WITH just days to go before the announcement of who will host the 2012 Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann and reap the benefits of a multi-million euro boost to the local economy, the group championing Ennis’ bid has yet again impressed Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
Members of the national standing committee of Comhaltas visited Ennis at the weekend, where they were given a little taste of what to expect if the county town is chosen to host the prestigious event.
Ennis is competing against Cavan and Sligo to secure next year’s All-Ireland Fleadh, with the decision to be announced on September 10 following a meeting of Ard Comhairle Comhaltas.
With the Fleadh worth an estimated €34 million to hosts of the event and visitor numbers expected to reach more than 200,000, hopes are high that Ennis will come out on top.
So far, the Ennis proposal has been astounding the decision makers, with Comhaltas’ director general, Labhrás Ó Murchú describing their bid as “outstanding”.
Rory Casey of the local working group tasked with bringing the Fleadh to Ennis said, “The members of the standing committee were very, very impressed with what they saw in Ennis at the weekend. The work that has gone into bringing the Fleadh to Ennis for 2012 has been incredible and that was one of the things noted on the inspection visit.
“They praised the local effort for the high level of professionalism they have brought to the bid. There has been a great drawing together of various interests, from the working group, Comhaltas, the business community, State agencies, local councils, voluntary groups, cultural organisations, all who see this as an opportunity for Ennis. We haven’t seen the Fleadh here since 1977 and it’s time the Fleadh Cheoil came home.”
While in Ennis, the standing committee had a chance to inspect some of the 19 venues identified by the local group for the Fleadh. “The great thing about the venues is how close everything is in Ennis. It’s very possible to walk around Ennis, which may not have been the case with some of the other competitor towns. That is something which is definitely a great boost for us and since the last time the Fleadh was here in 1977, there has been so much infrastructural development in Ennis since then, they were very impressed,” said Rory.
The weather also helped showcase the town at its best. “We were blessed with it, the town looked great, with all of the flowers. It couldn’t have worked out better for us.”
Representatives of Clare County Council, Ennis Town Council and Shannon Development showed their support for the bid. The standing committee were also given an outline of plans to finance the event. The cost of running the Fleadh has been estimated at €700,000.
“Very early on, a dedicated finance committee was put in place to investigate ways of meeting the finance targets. Particularly given the current climate, the older ways of raising finance just weren’t going to work. The committee has come up with some very innovative ideas, a totally new approach and I can’t say much more at this stage. But we were able to give cast-iron assurances that the funding of the Fleadh will not be an issue and they were accepted by the standing committee,” said Rory.
Members of An Garda Siochána and the local fire service also gave presentations to the standing committee. The committee also had a chance to check the accommodation available, with the local group emphasising that if named as hosts of Fleadh 2012, it will be an all-county event.
The inspection of the town ended with a visit to the Rowan Tree, where the committee had a chance to sample some traditional Clare hospitality.
“There was traditional music playing as we went over the bridge and the great thing was we were able to say that it hadn’t been staged. This is what happens here every Saturday night and that’s how it is in Clare all the time. Other venues would have had to stage something like that,” said Rory.
He praised all involved in putting the bid together. “The professionalism that is involved is beyond anything that I have ever seen being mounted in Ennis. It would do you proud. As somebody from Ennis myself, I was really proud to see such an impressive bid. We all know that Ennis is a natural home for traditional music but to be able to put that with all of the other attractions of Ennis and County Clare in a really top-class way was impressive.”
As part of their attempt to secure the Fleadh, members of the local group went to Cavan for this year’s event. “We were canvassing hard and putting forward our case and we got a very positive response from the people up there. The people in Cavan were exceptionally helpful, despite our rivalry,” he smiled.
“The Fleadhs in Tullamore and Cavan have raised the bar but we would be confident in Ennis that we would be well able to match it and indeed beat it,” he concluded.

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