THERE was widespread disappointment at the weekend at the news that Ennis would not be the host venue for Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in 2014. The announcement was made on Saturday by the Ardchomhairle of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, with Ennis losing out on an estimated €35 million boost to the local economy.
Sligo were named as the host town for the All-Ireland Fleadh in the ballot at Comhaltas headquarters in Dublin. Ennis has once again missed out on its bid to secure the event, which would have attracted an expected 300,000 visitors to the town.
The working group behind the Ennis bid said the outcome has come as a “huge disappointment”. The working group was established under the auspices of the Ennis-based Abbey Branch of Comhaltas over two and a half years ago to make the case to host the prestigious event.
The group, chaired by Micheál Ó Riabhaigh, comprised representatives of Comhaltas, State agencies, local authorities, An Garda Síochána as well as business, tourism and community interests.
Speaking after the announcement, Mr Ó Riabhaigh paid tribute to the commitment of the working group and acknowledged the significant resources provided by the various bodies in compiling such a professional bid, while regretting the group’s efforts did not meet with the success they deserved.
He said despite the result of the vote, he was convinced nothing more could be done by the working group and those who supported the effort. He emphasised the sense of purpose and focus the bid generated and that this energy and drive would serve both the town and county well in the future with a template now in place for bringing major festivals to the region. He went on to congratulate Sligo.
Mayor of Clare Councillor Pat Daly commented that he believes Ennis is a “worthy” host for the All-Ireland Fleadh. “The working group established to bring the event to Ennis has been working tirelessly over the past two and a half years. This decision comes as a huge disappointment to everyone concerned, as we firmly believed that Ennis would go one step further this year to secure the right to host the 2014 event. We put together a very strong argument as to why Ennis, arguably one of the best-known traditional Irish music centres in the world, would be a worthy host location but voting amongst Comhairle delegates has ultimately not gone in our favour for a third successive year. While everybody involved is very disappointed with the decision of the Ardchomhairle of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, I would like to wish Sligo every success in 2014.”
Mayor of Ennis Councillor Peter Considine added, “The potential economic spin-offs for Ennis and County Clare as a result of hosting the event would have been considerable, hence the substantial time and effort that has been invested by many organisations and individuals across Clare to bring the event here. Ennis has not hosted the event since 1977 and I firmly believe that the awarding of the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann to the town is long overdue, especially considering the fact that the town has and continues to host a range of culture and arts festivals that are of national and international renown, including the Fleadh Nua and the annual Ennis Trad Festival. Everybody concerned is understandably very disappointed and this decision does not in any way diminish the unrivalled contribution of traditional Irish music artists and groups throughout Clare over the years to preserving and promoting a unique part of Irish culture and heritage.”
County manager Tom Coughlan said Clare local authorities, which were centrally involved in the submission process, shared the disappointment felt by all members of the working group.
“I want to acknowledge the members of the working group for their efforts and commitment to securing this event for Ennis during the past year. Clare Local Authorities wish Sligo every success with the hosting of the 2014 Fleadh. We remain fully committed to working with all local interests and agencies to further enhance and promote the town and county’s reputation as a thriving centre for traditional arts,” Mr Coughlan concluded.
Meanwhile Vincent Cunnane, chief executive of Shannon Development said, “We are disappointed with the news that Ennis was unsuccessful in its bid to host the 2014 Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. We had hoped to be celebrating today with the other members of the Ennis Steering Group who put together the bid but, unfortunately, that is not to be. Ennis has a well-deserved national and international reputation as a location in which to enjoy superb traditional Irish music and one in which we will continue to take pride.”
Congratulating the winning bidders, Dr Cunnane added, “I would like to pay tribute to the dedicated team of people and organisations who worked so hard in putting together the bid for Ennis to host the 2014 Fleadh. Among them; Comhaltas Ennis branch, Clare County Council, Ennis Town Council, Shannon Heritage, the business community, voluntary groups, cultural organisations, gardaí and fire services. Shannon Development is delighted to have been part of this group. I am confident the energy generated and synergies created between all the local organisations working together on the ground will be harnessed to secure other major projects in the future,” he concluded.
In 2011, Ennis lost out to Cavan for the 2012 Fleadh. Ennis was among three competing host towns for the 2013 Fleadh when the decision was made by the Ennis Abbey branch to withdraw their bid paving the way for Derry to host the event.