Plans to hold the All-Ireland fleadh in Derry in 2013 have taken a step closer to fruition, according to one of the leading figures in Irish traditional music.
Labhrás Ó Murchú, director general of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, the body which organises the annual Fleadh Cheoil na h’Éireann, said he wants to see the festival held in Derry and added that he plans to visit the city soon to look as possible venues.
Mr Ó Murchú also said he has received a letter from First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness supporting plans to bring the fleadh to Derry as part of the City of Culture celebrations in 2013.
If Derry’s bid to host the fleadh is successful, it will be the first time it is held north of the border.
Mr Ó Murchú said work has already begun to promote Derry as a location for the fleadh. “We have been linking up with the Council and we have had a letter from Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness asking could Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann bring the fleadh to Derry,” he said.
Explaining how the process would work, the Comhaltas director said; “The branch would make an application and that would then go to the Ulster Council. The year before the fleadh there would be a meeting of the ard comhairle and each province is entitled to put forward one venue. We would then visit each venue to see what is available and then it would be put to a vote. There is a total of 31 votes from across Ireland, Britain, and north America.”
Mr Ó Murchú also said the suggestion to bring the fleadh to Derry has already sparked interest and discussion across Ireland. “There has been quite a lot of interest and the ard comhairle would expect an application from Derry,” he said.
As well as attracting top-class musicians from across Ireland and further afieled, the all-Ireland fleadh also draws thousands of visitors and generates business for hotels, pubs, local shops, and entertainment venues.
Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, Derry’s purpose built Irish language and cultural centre would be likely to host many of the events and competitions if Derry’s bid to host the fleadh is successful.