Day Three of the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil and the deluge of visitors is noticeably increasing in Derry’s city centre. As one visitor put it earlier today - “Who needs Europe when we have all this!”
All along the riverfront, the Continental Market is proving a huge hit with locals and newcomers alike, with a steady stream perusing its many stalls and sampling the food on offer. In Guildhall Square, the sun came out and everyone was in fine spirits. An expectant buzz remains in the air and one wishes there was more street music to entertain the masses, but this will no doubt be addressed as the Fleadh gathers momentum.
Bernadette Johnston arrived today from Belfast and is amazed at the buzz in the city. Speaking in the Craft Village, she told the ‘Journal’: “It’s great. Who needs Europe when we have all this!”
Davy Duncan, also from Belfast, added: “It’s a great occasion. Just a shame that Belfast couldn’t have learnt a wee bit from this, isn’t it? I lived here for two years 50 years ago, and I can tell you it wasn’t like this then! It’s been brilliant.”
Derry native Niall Kelly has brought his wife and baby daughter home from London especially for the Fleadh and they were having a ball today among the crowds in Guildhall Square.
“It’s really good, we’ve brought the baby home for this and we’re delighted we did now. But I’m surprised there are so few musicians on the street as that would really add to the atmospherics of everything. But the market on the quay is just fantastic though - great food!”
“There’s definitely a carnival atmosphere,” said local girl Aisling Starrs at the Continental Market.
“It all seems really friendly and well-organised; loads of visitors here too, which can’t be a bad thing. It’s going to be a brilliant week!”
In a particularly vibrant Waterloo Place, Eleanor Harris from Michigan praised our “magnificent” walled city.
“We’ve been to Ireland but never been to Derry before and we just can’t believe how wonderful it all is. The people, the heritage all around us, the city’s walls, it’s magnificent. There is a real vibe here - it was the perfect time to visit and we’ll certainly be back,” she said.
“Considering it’s so early on, the atmosphere is certainly building,” said our own ‘Derry Journal’ columnist, Eamonn McCann in a very lively Shipquay Street this afternoon.
“It seems to be too many people looking for too little music, but I think people generally misunderstood the fact that the Fleadh doesn’t really pick up musically until Thursday, Friday, and the weekend. But it’s great to see everyone out enjoying themselves.”
With five more days of music, song and dance still to come, this is already proving to be one of the finest weeks in the city’s history.
For more on the Fleadh Cheoil, see: www.fleadhcheoil.ie