2019 Fleadh Nua in Ennis promises to be an exciting and innovative festival, full to the brim with Concerts, Ceilis, Sessions, CD Launches, Recitals, Irish Dance Ccompetitions and Street Entertainment.
Since 1974 Fleadh Nua has developed from a 3-day event to a festival spanning 8 days, with more than 120 separate events, where there is a welcome for everyone. There are many Irish traditional festivals organised throughout the summer months but there are few people who will dispute that Fleadh Nua which started in Dublin in 1970, is the forerunner of them all. The concept of bringing together concerts, céilithe, music, song and dancing workshops, street entertainment, and much more was innovative in its time. However, it's still a winning formula today as evidenced by the thousands of visitors who flock to the festival every May for a week of unsurpassed traditional entertainment.
While the town of Ennis has lost nothing of its warmth and welcome since Fleadh Nua was first held there in 1974, one thing that has definitely changed is the time it takes to get to the capital of County Clare. With the new motorway network connecting directly to the town, Dublin is now only 2½ hours away by car. There are rail links to Ennis from Limerick, Cork, Galway, Dublin, Waterford and Tralee. Shannon International Airport has connections to North America, Britain and Mainland Europe and is only a 20-minute drive from Ennis. There are numerous bus services to and from Ennis, operated by Bus Éireann and Citylink, connecting the town to all the major population centres in the country.
All roads, old and new, will lead to Ennis and Fleadh Nua in May 2019.
The programme for Fleadh Nua 2019 will include: Concerts, Céilithe, Street Entertainment, Irish Language Classes, Set Dancing Competitions, Sean-Nós Dancing Competitions and Performances, Story Telling, Singing Sessions and much more. The wide range of activities, many of them free of charge, will offer something of interest to everyone at this year’s Fleadh Nua.
Since its release Last Night As I Lay Dreaming has played to enthusiastic audiences all over Ireland and as far afield as Melbourne, Australia and St Louis, Missouri, USA.
The film explores the life and songs of traditional singer Robbie McMahon from Spancilhill in Co. Clare. Robbie is credited with bringing the folk song ‘Spancilhill’ to a worldwide audience but is also an acclaimed composer of songs and ballads. This documentary charts the huge contribution Robbie McMahon has made to the world of singing down through the years, both through his own compositions and his unique interpretation of traditional songs.
Set against the backdrop of community life in rural Ireland, ‘Last Night As I Lay Dreaming’ features captivating performances from ‘The King Of Spancilhill’ himself along with contributions that set his achievements in a wider context. It highlights the important role the singer and songwriter has traditionally played in their local communities, recording significant events and keeping that memory alive for future generations.
The film, directed by Ray Conway and edited by Edmond Krasniqi, features music performed by Denis Liddy and Michael Hynes, two of Clare’s best known traditional musicians. Denis Liddy also arranged the music for the film which includes a newly composed piece. As well as being supported by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, ‘Last Night As I Lay Dreaming’ received funding from the Arts Office of Clare County Council, through its Traditional Music Initiative supported by the Arts Council.
Since its debut at the first Fleadh Nua in 1974 the Aos Óg Concert has been a core event of the festival, showcasing the best of young and emerging traditional artists. Now, forty five years on, the time has come to welcome back some of the now accomplished and celebrated traditional performers who, as children and teenagers, first shared their emerging talent with the world at an Aos Óg Concert. Past stars of Aos Óg will take to the stage at Glór with some of the traditions brightest young prospects for an unforgettable night of music, song and dance.
Multi award winning Socks in the Frying Pan make a welcome return to their home town for Fleadh Nua. Their dynamic vocal harmonies, virtuosic musical ability and their onstage wit has captured and captivated audiences around the world, making them one of the most sought after groups in Irish music today. Comprising Aodán Coyne on guitar and vocals, Shane Hayes on accordion and Fiachra Hayes on fiddle & banjo, ‘Socks’ youthful blend of Irish traditional melodies and unique performance style has gained them much critical acclaim including the ‘New Band of the Year' title from the Irish Music Association. Not to be missed!
Piping Heaven, Piping Hell: Without a doubt, this has been the most innovative trad session format to come to Ennis. Established in May 2015 by noted Clare piper, Blackie O’Connell, it is a session of pipers, that takes place each Friday at 4.30pm in Dan O’Connell’s public house. The sessions have featured many great and well known pipers, including such luminaries as Paddy Keenan, Mickey Dunne, Matt Bashford, Máire Ní Ghráda, Eoin Ó Riabhaigh and Seán Talty. Celebrated musician and singer, Cyril O’Donoghue complements the power of the pipes with his wonderful bouzouki playing and singing. There is nothing quite like to sound of the music of up to 10 pipers spreading from the square in the centre of town through the narrow streets.
The Four Courts Céilí Band brings down the curtain on the programme of Céilithe at this year’s festival on the evening of Monday, 27th May.
Concert - Music from the Mists - Caitríona Ní Cheannabháin Concert – Aos Óg – A Retrospective Concert - Socks in the Frying Pan Concert - Friends of Note Riches of Clare - Free Lunchtime Concert Series Comórtas Rince Náisiúnta Sean Nós Dancing Competitions Foinn Seisiún Workshops Céilí FILM - 'Last Night As I Lay Dreaming' Storytelling with Eddie Lenihan Cupán Ceoil – Café Music Sessions Ciorcail Comhrá Street Seisiún - Seinn na nÓg with Scoil Chríost Rí & Ennis Area Schools Piping Heaven, Piping Hell Reed Making Workshop Cas Amhrán Walking tour of Ennis with Jane O’Brien
Photo Credits: (1)(5)-(8) Fleadh Nua, (2) Blackie O'Connell (Dubhlinn) (unknown/website); (3) Aodán Coyne (Socks in the Frying Pan), (4) Four Courts Céilí Band (by Walkin' Tom).