A Trip to Sligo... Fleadh in Sligo
For those who follow traditional music this was a great opportunity to immerse oneself in its greatest festival i.e. The All-Ireland Fleadh which was held in Sligo over the past week or more. The Fleadhs have been going on now for over sixty years which in itself must be a record for a festival of this size. While there have been a few which are remembered as not being successful the general theme at the conclusion of most Fleadhs is that it was ‘the best one ever’. This is, like so many comparisons, impossible to judge of course. In any event Sligo and its organisers can be very happy with their Fleadh. It ticked nearly all the boxes.
The atmosphere at Fleadhs for me is akin to that before a big game or probably better, after your team has won that big game. It is where many musicians meet on an annual basis not necessarily by arrangement but something like the annual return of salmon to their spawning grounds or the annual cycle of birds making their pilgrimage to a welcoming, nurturing, reinvigorating place.
I could actually watch through my window as the volume of traffic swelled on the Sligo Road at Tawnytaskin. We joined that traffic on Friday afternoon and once parked in the Cathedral car park quickly encountered the strains of the music as we moved towards the heart of the town. There the atmosphere began and it became infectious.
Early I met Bernard Flaherty and Gerard O’Daly promoting Bernard’s book ‘A Trip to Sligo’. Then it was down to the ‘Gig Rig’ where we met a Morris Martin who now lives in Sligo and thus was well conditioned by that stage. He was clearly enjoying it all while waiting the turn of his group, The Innisfree Ceili Band, to perform on the ‘Gig Rig’. Another former St. Mary’s College student, Kevin Brehony, was also in the band. From there tunes like ‘The Sligo Maid’ and the ‘Boys of Ballisodare’ cascaded into the afternoon air. While all the principals were present or on the television coverage the person who represented the Fleadh condition best for me was Joanie Madden leader of the Irish/U.S. traditional group ‘Cherish the Ladies’.
Fleadhs thrive on ‘atmosphere’ and the enjoyment and camaraderie that prevails. On retiring to Martin Foley’s bar my musician colleagues joined the ‘session’ and I, not a musician, had to improvise. One is never alone in these environments. The result is that I spent a most enjoyable period talking to a Sligo town man and a couple from Derry, respecting of course, the driving tunes and heartfelt songs from the totally committed growing group. The Sligo fiddles were out in abundance and the tunes came tumbling like the Glencar waterfall.
Fulfilled we returned to Boyle until the following afternoon. On Saturday we quickly became immersed again just as if we hadn’t left at all. The casual meetings continued with the unsolicited advice about a ‘great tune’ or ‘great session’ in Shoot the Crows or McHugh’s, The Glass House or The Riverside. Then arriving at one to find that the session was just breaking up and continuing to search for that slightly elusive ‘tune’ that can happen when a group of top musicians meet accidentally on purpose, as it were, and you are in a small group at the initiation. Of course great sessions do not stay the domain of the lucky few for long anymore, as in the days of Listowel or Buncrana, in this age of the mobile communication.
While I was otherwise engaged on Sunday I was represented at what is now the Blue Riband event of these Fleadhs i.e. The Ceili Bands competition. Still I was able to engage with it all in tuning in to the marathon television coverage each night on TG4. I am self-conscious that I am in no way doing justice to this remarkable festival but I suggest you attend yourself to see, hear and feel what I am trying to convey. It is hard to imagine the post-Fleadh mood swing as Sligo gets back to normal this week. This will be soothed somewhat in the knowledge that it will return to Sligo next year. With the experience and confidence gained this time it can only be better which is really something to look forward to even at this remove.
Recycling Depot times
I hear that the opening times of the County Council’s recycling depot in Boyle are being reduced significantly. The facility on Station Road is an excellent one and it is a pity that constraints are now coming into play. Over a decade or more ago we were aware of recycling being a huge part of best practise in European mainland countries. It was thought that it would be difficult to introduce that level in this country. While I would not know the statistics in this regard the Irish have taken it on board pretty well and fine facilities like the one in Boyle have played a key role in developing that enlightened mind-set.
Boyle seniors went down to a good Padraig Pearse's in Ballinasloe on Sunday. Boyle really missed the presence of Roch Hanmore in the middle of the field and also Tadgh Lowe. Both were out injured. The team is very inconsistent in its performances this summer. We all got a bit carried away perhaps with the fine win and performance against Elphin in the first round of the Championship in Croghan. They also had good games against Brigid’s in the League and for forty minutes in the Championship and also against St. Faithleach’s in the League. Boyle will now play Castlerea in a Championship play-off to see who goes into the quarter finals. While Castlerea are a pretty good side, Boyle, playing well, should be well able to compete with them. This game will take place on the final week-end of the month.
This coming weekend the team have probably a more important game when they play Strokestown in the Division One O’Rourke Cup League. The game is in the Abbey Park at 6.30 on Saturday evening. Boyle need a win or maybe more than one to ensure that they continue playing in Division One football next year.
This game will be followed by the unveiling of a commemorative seat in memory of Eoin Lavin who died tragically in a car accident two years ago.
Those who have indicated that they wished to be associated with this should contact any club officer or myself.
The big game next week-end is the clash of Mayo v Kerry. My good prediction run was derailed by Cork’s poor hurling display allied to Tipp’s good performance on Sunday last. Next Sunday’s big game is Mayo v Kerry. While I would always wish that Mayo would win and hopefully go all the way it is hard to call against Kerry. A bit like Cork hurlers Kerry might not be just there yet especially without Gooch Cooper and Mayo are trying to get to a third final.
A Lyndon Johnson once said, about a contentious decision; ‘My answer is yes but my judgement is no’ if I say Mayo. It just depends on the day.
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