Spotlight on Derry as Fleadh fever begins

Musicians give an impromptu performance on the pipes outside Scoil Eigse during the opening day of the Fleadh. (DER3113PG017)
Musicians give an impromptu performance on the pipes outside Scoil Eigse during the opening day of the Fleadh. (DER3113PG017)

Visitors from all over the world are in Derry and enjoying the atmosphere of this week’s All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil - and the city has never looked so good.

The ‘Journal’ caught up with some of our local and international visitors yesterday to find out their thoughts on the host city. For some it was first impressions, others are frequent visitors to the walled city and delighted to have a reason to return - but all agree that the Fleadh brings with it an unforgettable atmosphere and a vibrancy that’s second to none.

Some have come from as far away as New York! Patricia Gallery had just arrived in the city and told us: “Of course I’m here, my son Brian won 1st in the Cavan Fleadh last year! He won the Tin Whistle Slow Airs Under 12, so this is actually his 4th Fleadh. We are here for the whole week and it’s great to be back. We’re looking forward to a good week.”

Liz Brosnan, from Berkshire, and Eileen Brosnan, Northumberland, are in town to visit their sister, Anne - and they’re all delighted to be here for the Fleadh. “We’re here to see Anne and the family, but what a great week to come over,” Liz said. “We’re looking forward to the week and enjoying all the atmosphere,” said sister Eileen, while their sister Anne, added: “It’s great to see so many people here - Guildhall Square is usually quite quiet.”

Sean O’Neill and his wife Sue from Cullyhanna in Armagh haven’t missed a Fleadh in an astonishing 30 years. “We’re here for the full week, and there’s a great buzz about the place. It’s brilliant to be back in Derry,” Sean told the ‘Journal’, while his wife Sue said she was “just looking forward to soaking it all up!”

Marie McGloin is originally from Derry so she travelled up from her home in Leitrim to be a part of the Fleadh. “We’re here for a few days. It’s nice to see the city so busy, isn’t it? I thought there would be more street music, but for people who have never been here, it’s great for them to see what the city has to offer. You’d think you were in Barcelona!”

Andrew Durham and Peter Durham have come from Warwick in England for the occasion.

“Andrew “It’s very friendly and very welcoming and open,” Andrew Durham said of Derry. “There’s very much an atmosphere of waiting for something to

happen at the moment, but it’s a great atmosphere of expectancy.

Brother Peter Durham has been to Fleadh’s before and says “A really nice atmosphere is building up, and that’s what’s important, isn’t it? It’d great that it’s in the North for the first time in Derry-Legenderry!”

Local Ulster Scots poet and broadcaster Wilson Burgess is delighted with the buzz in Derry, but says: “I still haven’t heard any music, where are all the performers in the streets?”

Meanwhile, Peter Keating travelled from Detroit with his family to stay with relatives in Creggan. They thoroughly enjoyed one of the Fleadh’s first concerts, From Derry to the Sea, at St Columb’s Cathedral on Sunday evening. “This is just great,” Peter said in Guildhall Square yesterday.

“We came specifically for the Fleadh and also to visit family here, so we’re here for the whole week. The atmosphere is fantastic today. We were here for Impact ‘92 but I think this is even better, it’s growing. We saw the concert at St Columb’s on Sunday which was brilliant - the local musicians were just amazing.”

So first impressions of Derry’s Fleadh Cheoil are overwhelmingly positive - with everyone looking forward to the live music element kicking off and an exciting, historic week ahead. For more on Derry’s Fleadh events, see: www.fleadhcheoil.ie.