The hills around Dunloy will be alive with the sound of music next weekend (9th – 12th May) as musicians from across the Saffron county descend on the village for the County Antrim Fleadh Cheoil.
After their neighbours Rasharkin successfully hosted the 2018 festival, this year responsibility for hosting falls on the other side of the hill for the first time since 2010.
“We are very excited to be hosting the 2019 Antrim Fleadh,” says organising committee secretary Colleen Tunney.
“It caps a successful year for our branch in Dunloy, having held a very successful Mind and Music event in October last year and a number of popular sessions throughout the year.”
As well as the usual variety of competitions and sessions that accompany any Fleadh, this year the Cúchullain village has introduced an innovative scheme to enhance participation and musical opportunities for musicians.
“This year we have introduced our Trad for All draw, where musicians collect a free ticket for every session or fundraising event they attend in the build-up to the Fleadh, including tonight’s launch event, Thursday’s Singing Session and the Sounds of Antrim concert, to be entered into a raffle to win prizes like scholarships or concert tickets.
“Additional tickets can also be bought at any of the sessions or events,” adds Colleen, “and renowned local musician Damian McKee of Beoga has kindly offered to donate some tickets and albums as prizes!”
The festival gets underway on Thursday 9th May in Cúchullain’s club rooms, where Mairéad Walls will host a singing session from 8-10pm and continues on the Friday evening with the Sounds of Antrim concert in St Joseph’s Parish Centre at 7:30pm.
Saturday sees the commencement of competitive rigour, with St Joseph’s PS hosting competitions from 10am to 4pm, before Fr Blayney celebrates the Fleadh Mass at 6pm. Saturday’s festivities will conclude with Session and Supper and Pop Up Gaeltacht events at the Parish Centre.
St Joseph’s Parish Centre again plays host to the remaining competitions, including the weekend’s blue ribband contest, the Senior Céilí Band, on the Sunday afternoon from 12:30 – 3pm before each Comhaltas branch in Antrim will perform on the Gig Rig stage from 3-6pm.
To kick off the Gig Rig concert, all ages and abilities will perform The Dawning of the Day in what committee member Monica Diamond has described as “A Tune for All at the Hall”.
With the main business complete, the curtain will be brought down on the 2019 Fleadh with a range of family events and a closing session.
The Fleadh weekend coincides with the visit of Kerry hurlers to Dunloy to face Antrim in the Joe McDonagh Cup and provides the perfect opportunity for supporters of both sides to experience the best in local culture and talent that Antrim has to offer.
Former Lisnaskea native Tunney is keen to stress that the focus of the weekend’s festivities is firmly on enjoyment and participation:
“We hope that the wide range of events included in the weekend will encourage all families from different backgrounds and different musical abilities to come down to Dunloy and get involved.”
“Bring your instrument, or if you don’t have one just bring yourself!”
Visit the Dunloy Comhaltas Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/dunloycomhaltas/ – or the Antrim Comhaltas Page – https://www.facebook.com/Fleadh-Cheoil-Chontae-Aontroim-718167454889440/ – for more information, or contact the organising committee via email – firstname.lastname@example.org