Fleadh Weekly Update No 8 – Clare Champion

20 May 2016

Fleadh Nua

As the annual Fleadh Nua gets underway in Ennis this Sunday, let’s begin with a word of explanation should all this talk of Fleadhs cause confusion. For several months now, the focus has been on Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann which will be held in Ennis from 14th – 22nd August.

A Fleadh Cheoil is a music festival that includes music, song, dance and language competitions. Competitors first seek recognition at the County Fleadh, then seek more honours at Provincial level before they can go for glory at the All-Ireland.


Why Fleadh Nua is Different

Fleadh Nua is different. Most obviously it is a festival of music and culture but smaller and more intimate than Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. Competitions play a very significant role at the Fleadh Cheoil. There are few competitions at Fleadh Nua – with set-dancing and sean- nós dancing the notable exceptions. Fleadh Nua has been located in Ennis for several decades, while Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann moves from town to town, as do the county and provincial Fleadhs.

Since 1974 Fleadh Nua has developed from a 3-day event to a festival spanning 8 days, with more than 120 separate events. 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, an Ghaeilge 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.


The Programme

The programme for Fleadh Nua 2016 continues the tradition of providing wide-ranging activities, many of them free of charge. There will be something of interest for everyone this year. Events can be found at venues all over Ennis with the larger presentations staged at Glór and Cois na hAbhna. The full programme can be found on the Fleadh Nua website fleadhnua.com


Official Opening: Cois na hAbhna - Sunday 22nd May 7.30pm

In keeping with the tradition of previous years, the Official Opening of Fleadh Nua by Labhrás Ó Murchú, Ard Stiúrthóir, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, will be followed by a tribute concert. This year the contribution of Craobh na Coradh branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann will be recognised and the night will finish up with a lively open session in the Teach Cheoil.

During the week…. Cupán Cheoil and Ciorcail Cainte will happen daily in the town Cafes, also free daily lunch-time recitals (Riches of Clare) in the Sanctuary of the Queens’ Hotel, Cas Amhrán – singing your favourite songs Wed. at the Cloister 8pm and a Late Evening Recital on Thursday with Eoin O’Neill & Brid O’Gorman at the Rowan Tree 10.30pm.

There will be a Special Reading of the Easter 1916 Proclamation on Tuesday 24th in Cois na hAbhna at 8pm and a performance of appropriate songs and music. Copies of the Proclamation will be presented by the Irish Defence Forces to seven people who have given significant service to the community


Set Dancing, Sean Nós Dancing & Singing Sessions (27th-29th May)

The second week-end will feature set and sean-nós dancing competitions at Cois na hAbhna and singing sessions with renowned singers Nora Butler, Nell Ní Chróinín and Donie Lyons at the Temple Gate Hotel, hosted by Joe O’Connor. Glór will host the Aos Óg Concert on Friday night (27th) and the following other key events will take place over the week-end.


1916 A Terrible Beauty - Glór – Sat 28th, 8.00pm

As Fleadh Nua’s contribution to mark the birth of our nation, the show ‘1916 - A Terrible Beauty’ will be staged to mark the Easter Rising of 1916, retold through music, song and words. Tracing the roots of the rising and the events of that fateful week, ‘1916 - A Terrible Beauty’ will draw on the music and song of the time along with eyewitness and newspaper accounts to recall perhaps the most defining event of 20th century Irish history. The performance will feature renowned traditional singer Seán Ó Sé with musical direction by Denis Liddy and narration by broadcasters Ciana Campbell and Pat Costello.


FILM: Last Night As I Lay Dreaming - Glór Sat 28th, 2.00pm

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. One of his most famous songs, The Fleadh Down in Ennis memorably chronicled the musicians and celebrities who came to Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 1956 which was hosted in Ennis for the first time. Sixty years later, it is still sung and enjoyed wherever ballad lovers meet.


The Speks - Glór Sat 28th, 2.00pm

The Speks present a lively show of nursery rhymes and sing-along songs set to acoustic Irish music which will have adults and kids jumping in their seats! Their hand-clapping, toe-tapping, hearty-laughing show is all about life on Glasses Island – a magical island off the coast of Co. Clare where everybody wears glasses!

The Speks have won a Parents’ Choice music award in the US where their music has been described as “Riverdance for Kids” and they encourage everyone to sing, scream, clap and dance along during their performances. This will be a great, fun event for kids aged 2 to 92!



Danú in Concert - Glór –  Sun 29th, 8.00pm

One of the most exciting and enduring trad groups of our time, Danú make a very welcome return to Ennis to perform at the closing concert of Fleadh Nua 2016. The band came together twenty one years ago to take part in the Lorient Inter-Celtic Festival in Brittany in 1995.  Steeped in the music and language and hailing from Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Waterford and Kerry, Danú have entertained audiences throughout North America and Europe.