Fiddles, flutes, a big green bus, and a lambeg drum - there really was something for everyone at the All Ireland Fleadh in Cavan at the weekend.
This year’s event may have been in Cavan town but there was certainly no escaping the fact that Derry will be hosting it next year. Everywhere you looked in Cavan at the weekend there were people wearing t-shirts promoting Derry’s fleadh and even the most unobservant can’t have failed to have noticed the big green bus, decked out with the Derry 2013 fleadh logo, driving about the town handing out promotional packs for next year’s festival.
Derry even got the Presidential seal of approval on Saturday when Uachtarán na h’Éireann, Michael D Higgins, paid a visit to the fleadh. The president, who will be the patron of Fleadh Cheoil na h’Éireann in Derry next year, said he had no doubt that the city will stage a fantastic event.
The streets of Cavan were thronged with people from early morning to very, very late at night as revellers packed into pubs, galleries, libraries, and just about everywhere else in the town to hear a fantastic array of traditional music. From children as young as eight years-old to men in their 90s, there were musical performances everywhere.
Away from the gig rig and other public stages, performers played at informal sessions all over the town, entertaining passers-by. And there was certainly no shortage of those. Accents from all over Ireland, and indeed further afield, could be heard on the streets, pubs, hotels and campsites.
The large Derry contingent who travelled to Cavan to promote the city certainly went about their task with all of the missionary zeal of St Columba, spreading the message about next year’s fleadh. Teams wearing Derry t-shirts could be seen at all events asking people if they would be coming to Derry in 2013. In the vast majority of cases the answer was an unequivocal ‘yes,’ Many said it will be the first time they have ever been to Derry and there seemed to be genuine enthusiasm for the city.
It wasn’t just the Comhaltas Ceolteoiri Eireann team who were on the ground in Cavan evangelising for Derry - the local delegation also included the city’s Mayor, an MEP, Derry publicans, business leaders, and even the city’s police chief.
One of the more unusual sights in Cavan was the large crowd watching Ulster Scots musician Willie Drennan and a group of fife players performing close to the main street on Saturday morning. Anyone (particularly anyone waking up in a nearby tent after a late night) could have been forgiven for thinking a loyal order parade was passing by!
More unusual still, the crowd watching this spectacle included a number of well-known Derry republicans who could be seen enthusiastically tapping their feet to the beating of the Lambeg.
If the atmosphere in Cavan was anything to go by it is certain that Derry is in for a fantastic fleadh in twelve months time.