FEC chair Joe Connaire, second from right, with Sharleen Doyle, Labhrás Ó Murchú and Éamonn Ó hArgáin. The photo was taken at the event on the Tuesday of this year's fleadh where he was presented with a Ceannródaithe (Bardiac) award.

They will be talking about this as best ever fleadh for years - Joe Connaire

The 2022 and 2023 fleadhs in Mullingar will be spoken about for years to come as “the best ever”, according to the chair of the Fleadh Executive Committee (FEC).

Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner on the day after the fleadh drew to a close, a tired but proud Joe Connaire said that the consensus among the estimated 600,000 fleadh goers that attended this year is that Mullingar has taken the event to a new level over the last two summers.

“I had people coming up to me all week and they said ‘the best ever’: the music, the song, the crowds, the atmosphere, the fact that there was something for everyone; no stone was left unturned in what we did to bring the fleadh to Mullingar.

“I have to thank our 15 chairpersons, who have done Trojan work. We have had 96 FEC meetings in the last year. I have to single out our great secretary Colette Glynn. She has been the best person that I could ever have worked with. She is just an amazing person.”

Joe also praised the team of 1,000-plus volunteers who helped make the event run as smoothly as it did. “They were superb. You just can’t run a fleadh without them,” he said.

Joe predicted that there will be a huge upturn in the number of local people playing traditional instruments as a result of the fleadh.

“We have left a legacy behind in Mullingar. I think that the amount of people who will start learning a traditional Irish instrument in the months ahead will be unbelievable. Comhaltas branches around the county will grow big time.”

Looking to the future and the possibility of the fleadh returning, Joe, who is stepping down as the chair of Westmeath Comhaltas, said that while it is too early to say...

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when that could happen, the town and its people have shown that it is the ideal location for the largest celebration of traditional Irish music and culture in the world.

“I do firmly believe that Mullingar is the best town for Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, because of its location, the great infrastructure, the hotels, the pubs, the chippers. It has the wide streets. It has everything going for a successful fleadh.

“For publicans to run out of the ould drink on Saturday night – that tells it all. Chippers ran out of burgers, that is fact. We put our heart and soul into this for the past seven years. I hope the businesses and the people of Mullingar appreciate what myself and our great Fleadh Executive Committee of volunteers have done for the town.

“We have put Mullingar on the map. The future benefits for tourism and people coming to this town for years to come will be absolutely huge. The economic benefits will be felt for many years to come.”