THE positivity that surrounded the huge level of voluntary participation in the London Olympics has been likened to that which was seen in Ennis for the 2016 All-Ireland Fleadh.
“In London, people got involved in the event by volunteering to help in many ways. It was a sense of ownership, there was plenty to do,” commented Sharon Meaney, development manager of Clare Volunteer Centre Team.
“In Ennis last year, there was also a strong sense of ownership of the Fleadh. A total of 1,549 volunteers registered with us and many more helped directly at camp sites.
“As well as people from the town and Clare, we had volunteers from the UK and much farther afield. They were from diverse backgrounds, all spectrum of society, and what was very encouraging for us was the fact that 10% of the total were under 18.
“One of the lovely aspects about the profile of the volunteers was family support. We had quite a number of children, parents and grandparents, all working together,” she said.
On the All-Ireland Fleadh as an international event, Sharon said, “Apart from competitors from Ireland and overseas, as well as traditional music fans from those same countries, you will have a lot of people just coming to the West of Ireland when there’s a major festival on,” said Sharon.
In relation to the 2017 Fleadh in August, Sharon is convinced that there will be an even bigger team of volunteers.
“We have already contacted all those who were involved last year and there’s no doubt they’ll be on board again. Up to this week, we have 700 volunteers registered and this will build in the coming weeks.
“We will begin formal training on July 17, linking up with Comhaltas, Clare Civil Defence, Clare Fire Service, Accessibility Sub Committee, An Garda Síochána and Clare Tourism,” she said.
Sharon noted that a feedback session and online survey was carried out among last year’s volunteers and several suggestions on how to improve their role from 2017 have been taken on board.
But what about the weather? 2016 beat the elements and Sharon is hopeful that the weather will be kinder this time round