Song, dance and music return to the streets of Mullinger this week as summer kicks off in Fledh Cheoil na Hiren style.
Their staging of the Year of the Roving Festival has been dubbed “The Homecoming”, as the city was the first to host a façade 70 years ago, in 1951.
Held for the first time after a two-year absence due to the pandemic, Fleece is the world’s largest celebration of Irish music, language and heritage.
It is estimated that half a million visitors will travel to the city of Co Westmeath during the festival.
The event is organized by Comhaltas Seoltoiri Eireann and is run in conjunction with Westmeath County Council and the local Fleed Executive Committee.
A lot happens wherever you go. There is music everywhere. Music in the air and music in our hearts
Senator and Director General of the Comhaltas Seoltoiri Eireann, Labhras A. Murchu, said the festival returning to Mullinger brought with it a sense of community pride.
“A lot happens wherever you go. There’s music everywhere. Music in the air and also in our hearts.”
“So coming back here celebrating 1951, we are remembering the visionaries of those times.
“It was a very difficult task, it was an isolated island. But they decided to light a spark and that spark became a huge flame,” said Senator Marchu.
Concerts, selie, talks and exhibitions are all included in the week’s line-up.
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Artists from all over the world are taking part in 150 competitions that run till Sunday.
Musicians of all ages are welcome to attend the events, with more frequent gatherings in the coming days.
Sonya Moorhead, her two sons and husband traveled from West Yorkshire to Westmeath.
Originally from Co Down, she decided to bring her kids to Fleedh’s before them.
Two of his boys were sitting on the grass, one with a fiddle in one hand and the other with Bodhan.
“One of them plays the fiddle in the folk band where we live, but the other plays the trumpet in the brass band. We had to give him something,” she laughed, pointing to Bodran. “I’m from the North so I didn’t really inherit a lot of that, so I really wanted them to get a taste of it.”
“Ireland is great, we feel very welcome. So thank you
One of the main events of yesterday was a musical performance of Ukrainian refugees who have settled in Mullinger.
Dressed in their blue and yellow colors and performing primarily in their mother tongue, the ensemble sang with such passion that the language barrier was no longer relevant. In front of a mostly Irish crowd, almost every member of the audience had tears in their eyes.
Victoria Herska (26) fled her hometown of Kyiv three months ago and moved to Mullinger. He led a large part of the sing-song.
“Ireland is great, we feel very welcome. So thank you. They all try to help in every way possible. Not many of us know the language. I try to help as many people as I can. But a lot of people coming from the war are a little tense about it (the language). But every Irish person I’ve met has been very welcoming,” said Ms. Hurska.
Ms. Herska was awarded the Fleed Cheoil Testas Prize. “It is a certificate of service that we generally give to the Irish people,” explained Senator Marchu. “We thought this was the perfect opportunity to hug our friends from Ukraine.”
Joe Conair, chairman of the Fleed Executive Committee, said: “Traditional Irish music is our culture. They sang some lovely songs as part of their culture. Music is for people, music is for sharing. We shared a little with them, He shared a little with us, and hopefully it will continue in the future.”