Musicians and spectators from across the globe descended on Sligo in August to take part in Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, the annual week-long festival of traditional Irish music, song and dance.
Now in its 64th year, this competition for amateur musicians brought crowds of 400,000 people to the town, hosting the competition for the second year running. The event was estimated to have brought in revenues of €40 million, with more than 8,000 competitors taking part. At the core of the Fleadh were traditional musicians, dancers and singers of all ages competing at All Ireland level, and this year, there were several successful American participants including Brianna Brown of St. Louis Irish Arts and Jake James from the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance in New York. Each placed first in their respective age category – Brown in the under-12 concertina category, and James in the 15-18 fiddle category. There was also success for Finbar Kantor from Pearl River, New York, who placed third in his category – the over-18 fiddle slow airs.
Director general of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann Labhras Ó Murchu commented on the festival saying, “Fleadh 2015 will rank as one of the great Fleadhanna of all time. It was a wonderful celebration of Irish culture involving people of all ages, from all parts of Ireland and many parts of the World.” Next year’s festival will take place in Ennis, Co. Clare from August 14 through 21. ♦
CORRECTION: The list of American winners at Fleach Cheoil na hÉireann regretfully left off Lexia Kennedy (pictured below), from the Murphy Roche School of Irish Music in Burr Ridge, Illinois. Kennedy, 11, edged out competition from Ireland, England and the US to place 3rd in fiddle airs.