Cllr Aengus O’Rourke with members of the Mullingar Fleadh committee, Willie Penrose, Collete Glynn, Secretary, Joe Connaire, Chairman.

Athlone to have official Fleadh day

Athlone is to have its own Fleadh Day as part of Fleadh Ceoil na hEireann 2023, which will take place in Mullingar.

The town will have an official slot on the Fleadh programme on August 8 next, to mark the 70th anniversary of Athlone hosting the Fleadh in 1953.

Cathaoirleach of Westmeath County Council Cllr Aengus O'Rourke, who was instrumental in establishing the day, said it will be part of a three-day festival of traditional music and culture in Athlone.

Éamonn Ó hArgáin Uachtarán Chomhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and Labhrás Ó Murchú, Ardstiúrthóir of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann are expected in Athlone on August 8, along with a swathe of performers and traditional musicians, to commemorate the 70th anniversary and to acknowledge Athlone's strong ties to the arts, music and traditional music in particular.

Cllr O'Rourke said: "Fleadh Ceoil na hEireann 2022 was a phenomenal success. Half a million people visited Mullingar during last year's event and it was widely acclaimed as the best Fleadh ever."

Mullingar will host the event again this year from August 6-14

"It has been my great pleasure as Cathaoirleach this year to work with and get to know the hard-working Mullingar Fleadh Committee. They have done an amazing job. The work and organisation required to run a successful Fleadh is immense, the committee deserve huge credit," he said.

"Some weeks ago, I made a proposal to the Mullingar Fleadh Committee that Athlone should feature in the Fleadh programme of events this year.

"I made this proposal on the basis that in 1953, exactly 70 years ago this year, Athlone hosted the Fleadh".

He said the committee confirmed in recent days that they were delighted to include Athlone and that a special event will take place in Athlone on Tuesday. August 8.

"Following this good news, together with the Mullingar Fleadh Committee, I organised a meeting in Athlone of local people with an interest in Irish music, dancing and song. I was delighted to see 40 people attend the meeting last week in St Kieran's Community Centre."

He said a local leadership group has been established from the meeting to drive plans for the festival of music, song and dance on August 6-8, with August 8 the official Comhaltas Fleadh day in Athlone.

He said the committee's plan is to have a three-day festival that celebrates and demonstrates the wealth of talent in the Athlone region.

More details about the Athlone festival will follow in the coming weeks.