The Fleadh Cheoil
is an Irish music
Irish Music is the generic term for music that has been created in various genres on the island of Ireland.The indigenous music of the island is termed Irish traditional music. It has remained vibrant through the 20th, and into the 21st century, despite globalizing cultural forces...
competition run by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is the primary Irish organisation dedicated to the promotion of the music, song, dance and the language of Ireland. The name of the organisation is often abbreviated to Comhaltas or CCÉ...
(CCÉ) or more commonly known as "Comhaltas" (pron: coal-tis).
There are various stages to the competition. In Ireland there are county and provincial competitions leading to the All-Ireland Fleadh. In Britain there are regional then national stages of qualification for the All-Ireland. North America has two regional qualifying Fleadh Cheoil. The Mid Atlantic Fleadh
covers the US eastern seaboard, eastern Canada and the Maritimes. The Midwest Fleadh
covers the rest of North America from Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta and Detroit to San Francisco.
Competitions are divided into the following age categories: under 12, 12-15, 15-18, and over 18 (senior).
The first national festival of Irish traditional music was held in Mullingar
Mullingar is the county town of County Westmeath in Ireland. The Counties of Meath and Westmeath Act of 1542, proclaimed Westmeath a county, separating it from Meath. Mullingar became the administrative centre for County Westmeath...
in 1951. At its inaugural meeting in September 1951, CCÉ came up with the title of Fleadh Cheoil, aiming to make this a great national festival of traditional music. The fleadh has been held in many different venues
In the years that followed, the number of would-be competitors grew so large that qualifying stages had to be arranged at county and provincial level. Since then, Fleadh Nua (the new fleadh), Fleadh na Breataine (an All-Britain
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...
fleadh) and regional fleadhanna in Britain, and two major fleadhanna in the USA have also become annual CCÉ events.
From its beginning, the goal of the Fleadh Cheoil was to establish standards in Irish traditional music through competition. The Fleadh developed as a mainly competitive event, but it also included many concerts, céilíthe, parades, and sessions
Irish traditional music sessions are mostly informal gatherings at which people play Irish traditional music. The Irish language word for "session" is seisiún...
Today, nearly 50 years on, fleadhanna at each level provide a platform and a meeting place for the thousands of musicians (around 20,000 performers compete in fleadhanna each year), singers and dancers who carry on the tradition.
The 2008 festival was held in Tullamore
Tullamore is a town in County Offaly, in the midlands of Ireland. It is Offaly's county town and the centre of the district.Tullamore is an important commercial and industrial centre in the region. Major international employers in the town include 'Tyco Healthcare' and 'Boston Scientific'. In...
, County Offaly
County Offaly is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Midlands Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the ancient Kingdom of Uí Failghe and was formerly known as King's County until the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. Offaly County Council is...
and attracted an estimated crowd of 250,000 people making it Ireland's largest festival, music or otherwise.
According to CCÉ's official rules for 2005:
- Solo competitions shall be held for the following instruments: fiddle; two-row accordion; concert flute; whistle; piano accordion; concertina; uilleann pipes; harp; mouth organ; banjo; mandolin - excluding banjo-mandolin; piano; old-style melodeon; bodhrán; war pipes; miscellaneous such as three and five row button accordion, piccolo, [chromatic] harmonica and other stringed instruments; céilí band drums; accompaniment – confined to piano, harp, guitar and bouzouki-type instruments; solo traditional singing in Irish and English; whistling; lilting; newly composed ballads and amhráin nua-cheaptha (newly composed songs in Irish).
- Solo competitions for slow airs shall be held in all age groups for the following instruments: (a) fiddle; (b) concert flute; (c) whistle; (d) uilleann pipes.
There are also competitions for the following ensembles: duet, trio, ceilí band, instrumental group (grupaí cheoil), accordion band, pipe band, and miscellaneous ensemble.
The full rule set, which may change from year to year, is available from CCÉ web site
in the Press Room section. Comhaltas has a constitution or "Bunreacht
" in the Irish language.
Towns and cities wishing to host Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann must submit several applications to Ardchomhairle an Chomaltais - the highest commitee within CCÉ. Certain members of the Ardchomhairle then inspect the applicant towns and the locations that have been proposed as competition venues, before coming to a final decision several weeks after the preceding fleadh, usually in September. Once a town has been chosen to host the Fleadh, it undertakes to host the festival for two consecutive years. However, Comhaltas has the right to deny any the successful town the Fleadh for the second year if poor venues, organisational problems, etc. are demonstrated on the town's first year of hosting. On September 10 2011, the 2012 All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil was awarded to Cavan
Cavan is the county town of County Cavan in the Republic of Ireland. The town lies in the north central part of Ireland, near the border with Northern Ireland...
, County Cavan
County Cavan is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Border Region and is also located in the province of Ulster. It is named after the town of Cavan. Cavan County Council is the local authority for the county...
for the third year in succession. The other towns who applied for the 2012 festival were Ennis
Ennis is the county town of Clare in Ireland. Situated on the River Fergus, it lies north of Limerick and south of Galway. Its name is a shortening of the original ....
, County Clare
-History:There was a Neolithic civilisation in the Clare area — the name of the peoples is unknown, but the Prehistoric peoples left evidence behind in the form of ancient dolmen; single-chamber megalithic tombs, usually consisting of three or more upright stones...
; and Sligo
Sligo is the county town of County Sligo in Ireland. The town is a borough and has a charter and a town mayor. It is sometimes referred to as a city, and sometimes as a town, and is the second largest urban area in Connacht...
, County Sligo