Derry’s Fleadh Bus has clocked up thousands of miles promoting Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann over the last year and is now preparing for a new career as a television studio.
The bus has become a familiar sight at major events across Ireland and further afield and has now returned to the city ahead of the beginning of the Fleadh on Sunday August 11.
The bus will be parked in Guildhall Square during the Fleadh and will be used by Irish language television station TG4 as a studio for its broadcasts from the city.
As well as playing host to famous musicians and competition winners, President Michael D Higgins is also expected to visit the Fleadh Bus when he travels to Derry to officially open the Fleadh.
Bus owner Dee McCafferty said the move will give the vintage vehicle a new lease of life. “It is a new departure for the bus and it is a whole new career for it,” he said.
“The bus will be parked up in Guildhall Square for the week and TG4 will use it as a base for their outside broadcasts. There will be a lot of musicians coming and going as the competition winners get interviewed and perform a few tunes for the cameras. As well as that, President Higgins will be doing an interview on board the bus when he launches the Fleadh.
“There is a man called Seamus McGowan who is coming over from North Carolina in the United States for the Fleadh and he is going to help out with the bus.
“His relatives are originally from Derry,” he said.
Mr McCafferty said the bus has visited every county in Ireland over the last year. “We started in Cavan at the Fleadh in August last year and since then it has been non-stop. That was the first time that fleadh goers got a chance to see the bus. We have made eight return trips to Dublin, two trips to Cork, two to Galway, and everywhere in between. At this stage we have visited each of the 32 counties at least once.
“We have been to all the major sporting events in Dublin and the four provincial fleadheanna, finishing in Dromore last weekend for the Ulster Fleadh,” he said.
Mr McCafferty said the bus has also been to Britain on a number of occasions. “We have clocked up thousands of miles on trips to England and Scotland, including one to the All Britain Fleadh at Twickenham earlier this year. The bus has been from Free Derry Corner to Wembley and all points in between and has been visited by thousands of people and is now back in Derry to celebrate the Fleadh with everyone else,” he said.