When tens of thousands of people from around the globe are in Derry this week enjoying dozens of events at the world’s biggest celebration of Irish tradition and culture, behind the scenes playing a massive part are three Fleadh stalwarts from Dungiven.
Carol O’Kane, Tricia McCloskey and Odhran Mullan all have important roles in the Fleadh Cheoil 2013.
Carol is assistant Fleadh co-ordinator; Tricia is in charge of corporate hospitality; and Odhran is events manager.
Each modestly play down their role praising countless others helping make it all happen, but each agree it’s a fantastic experience to be involved in, especially in their home city.
“It’s been absolutely brilliant,” Carol told the ‘Journal’ yesterday morning. “We’ve been bowled over by the crowds that turned out in Derry on Sunday for the opening ceremony. The whole of Ulster was there. It was fantastic.”
Carol says while it has been “manic” these past few months in the lead-up to the Fleadh, the amazing suport and seeing everything come together makes it all worthwhile. Having been heavily involved in two County Fleadhs and two Ulster Fleadhs in Dungiven, Carol says she had a fair idea of what to expect, “except this is ten times the scale of anything before”.
Tricia McCloskey agrees, but says her previous fleadh experience and her work in the hospitality industry in the city has helped tremendously.
“It’s been great and you know the beauty of it is that after two County fleadhs and two Ulsters we sort of knew what to expect, except as Carol says, this is ten times the scale,” said Tricia, who said she has also met so many new people while arranging accommodation for visiting musicians and media; some of whom are staying at the Roe Park Resort in Limavady.
“You don’t really sleep, you just get it done, but it’s fantastic,” said Tricia.
“It’s all about good planning and factoring in any hiccups that might arise; that’s key and plus we’ve learned from mistakes in past fleadhs. The message we’re getting from down the country is that ‘Derry looks after you!’, and that’s fantastic.”
Odhran Mullan, who plays the fiddle, is looking after more than 100 events, but he says while he appears calm he feels like there is an earthquake rumbling inside him.
“It’s a really small team involved and we’re doing the work of a large body of people, but it’s good to have past experience and pass it on,” he said, yesterday.
“I enjoy it when everything comes off well and, yes, we are all knackered but you just do it. I’ve also accepted I won’t be lifting the fiddle this week!”