Documentary on historic Fleadh

A scene from the closing ceremony of Fleadh Cheoil na h�ireann.
A scene from the closing ceremony of Fleadh Cheoil na h�ireann.

A scene from the closing ceremony of the Fleadh.

‘Fleadh’ will follow several young musicians in their bid for All-Ireland glory at the record-breaking Fleadh, which attracted 430,000 visitors to Derry in August.

The documentary, which will be shown on BBC One next Monday, December 2, at 10.35pm, goes behind the scenes to follow the competitors as they qualify for the Fleadh and how they fared when they came to the city to perform.

Among the musicians featured in the documentary, viewers will follow Una, a young saxophonist who brings her own style to traditional music; seven members of the McKenna family, all of whom competed for All-Ireland titles; and banjo player Tomas Quinn who almost didn’t make it to Derry.

It also features noted composer Lorcán MacMathúna, whose specially commissioned piece, ‘From the River to the Sea,’ opened the Fleadh in St Columb’s Cathedral.

The director, Sean McGuire, follows his progress throughout the summer, as Lorcán, a traditional ‘sean-nós’ singer, meets a range of different people and groups from across the city as he prepares for the live televised debut performance of his work, complete with a cast of local young musicians.

The film also features a number of overseas competitors - including a Leeds man who first tasted All-Ireland success when he was 14 but had not played his accordion for 20 years.

Also featured are Britain’s reigning Céilí band champions, St Rochs, from Glasgow, who took on local bands for the coveted senior ceili band title.

Derry man Sean McGuire, producer and director, said; “It was a pleasure and a privilege to work on this film.

“I was blown away time and again by the sheer talent of the young musicians I met and filmed with – not to mention the incredible support and dedication shown by their families.

“Playing the music they love, they do credit to themselves, to their communities – and you can see when they play how much it means to them.

“Of course, there’s a competitive spirit, but more importantly, what I found in this world of music was friendship, camaraderie and a lot of joy, and I think that’s what this film is about – not just winning medals, though that’s part of it too.

“Making this film also brought me back to my home city, and it was really something to be there, not just to attend the Fleadh, but to see how well we did,” the director said.

‘Fleadh’ is on BBC One Northern Ireland on Monday, December 02 at 10.35pm.