Biggest-ever Fleadh ‘a 2013 highlight’

Members of Fidget Feet with Fire Birds hovering over the large attendance at Sunday night's closing ceremony. DER3413JM039
Members of Fidget Feet with Fire Birds hovering over the large attendance at Sunday night's closing ceremony. DER3413JM039

Culture Company 2013 Chief Executive, Shona McCarthy, has said the biggest ever Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann will stand out as one of the highlights of the City of Culture programme.

A wonderful Fleadh week drew to a close with a special closing event watched by 9,000 people in Ebrington Square on Sunday night.

Official figures estimate that over 430,000 people visited Derry over the eight days of the event, making it the most attended Fleadh in the event’s 63-year history.

Shona McCarthy congratulated fleadh chief Eibhlinn ni Dochartaigh and the huge citywide effort that made the event such a success, and thanked Labhras O Murchu and Comhaltas for giving the city the opportunity to show what it could do.

She said; “The Fleadh has been another outstanding event in the 2013 programme. That’s not just because of the unprecedented numbers of people attending and the amazing sense of celebration that it produced but also in terms of the message that it has transmitted about Derry-Londonderry as a vibrant, welcoming cultural city that delivers.

“Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is always a special experience, but this year as it came north for the first time and was hosted by a city for the first time, and in the context of an extraordinary year for Derry-Londonderry, it has been magical.

“The momentum has been building since our opening concert in January and I think we can truly begin to say that this is a city transformed, visually, physically and psychologically through this immense cultural experience.

“With only four months to go, there’s a rich programme through the autumn and winter months and the city’s doors are well and truly open.

“This weekend sees the Rainbow colours of Foyle Pride take to the streets. The Walled City Tattoo will be another first for the city and will bring the wow factor at the end of the month.

“We have the CultureTech Festival in September, and a ground-breaking open air production of The Conquest of Happiness by Bosnian artist Haris Pasovich.

“From October through December we host the Turner Prize, a unique opportunity to view one of the highlights of contemporary visual art, and outside England for the first time ever.

“We will host an international Choral Festival, and a large scale Halloween carnival.

“The genius of Sam Shepard and Stephen Rea will see the premiere of a new Field Day theatre production, followed by the spectacular Lumiere festival of light in November, and Shaun Davey’s Relief of Derry Symphony in December.

“And these are only a flavour of what’s to come. November is Cinema City. There’s art on every corner, Willie Doherty and Locky Morris and Danny Boyle and Edna O’Brien. The Fleadh may have concluded but we have a full and rich programme of on-going projects in the autumn.

“So for people who enjoyed their experience of the city this week, we want them to return.

“And for those who are kicking themselves for missing the Fleadh, there’s still plenty of opportunity to experience the unique energy that the UK City of Culture celebrations have brought to Derry-Londonderry.”

The crowds at the Fleadh exceeded all expectations, and were certainly helped by the fact that the weather turned out better than expected.

One of the many features of the weekend was that Children in Crossfire successful attempt at a world record for Riverdance.

After practices earlier in the weekend, the dancers took to the streets on Sunday morning to the sounds of accordion player Jim McGrath and his ceili band. And duly smashed the record.

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin has congratulated the thousands of people who took part and set a new World record for Riverdance at Ebrington Square /Peace Bridge.

The event was another successful initiative by the local charity Children in Crossfire.

Local Sinn Fein MLAMaeve McLaughlin said “It absolutely fantastic that thousands of participants, their families and supporters turned out here to set a new world record for Riverdance.

“Another first for Derry and just adds to what has been a memorable week for not only for Derry but the North West Region.

“Well done to local charity Children in Crossfire for coming up with this initiative absolutely brilliant.”

There was still some of the Fleadh atmosphere around the city yesterday afternoon and evening, with some traditional musicians and music fans opting to stay around and catch some music in a slightly quieter city!

One encouraging aspect of the Fleadh for those fond of traditional music was the number of young people performing through the city and in the competitions, and the standard of playing generally involved. Another plus!