Traditional music fans descend on Mullingar in County Westmeath today, as Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann has officially opened.
This year, Fleadh Cheoil returns to Mullingar for 2023 – where the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann was founded and the traditional music festival first began in 1951.
The host town will welcome musicians, dancers and performers from across the globe for the world’s largest annual festival of Irish music.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar attended the Opening Ceremony, where he said Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is a "brilliant celebration of Ireland’s deep connection to music and dance, Irish language and community."
"People have travelled here from across Ireland and further afield, with many others tuning in online around the world," he said.
"Thank you to the superb Fleadh Executive Committee and the brilliant volunteers who make this event possible, and to the incredible performers and competitors who will delight and entertain us over the coming week, nurturing and preserving Irish culture and its legacy.”
As per tradition, Fleadh 2022 was also held in Mullingar and is said to generate upwards of €50 million for the local economy.
While thousands are expected to attend the events over the week, thousands more will take part by tuning in from Comhaltas branches around the world.
Visitors to the town can experience the Fleadh’s acclaimed music and dance competitions, see performances from international and local acts, attend workshops and lectures and learn about the history and legacy of Mullingar and the Fleadh with guided tours.
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At the opening ceremony, Fleadh Executive Committee Chairperson Joe Connaire said it had "always been a dream" of his to host the homecoming.
"We’ve been working on this project since 2016 - the fact that the Fleadh has taken place here for two years running has surpassed all of our ambitions for the community," he said.
"Hundreds of thousands will flock to the county this year, and thousands more will join us online - a testament to how the Fleadh has become intrinsic in preserving the legacy of Irish traditional music, dance and culture.“
Throughout the week, performances from well-known traditional musicians will be broadcast on TG4, as well as coverage of the provincial finals.
The festival reached record-high attendee numbers in 2018 when over 600,000 people travelled to Drogheda for the event.
Run by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCÉ), Fleadh Cheoil will run from the 6th of August to the 14th to celebrate Irish music, dance, song, storytelling and comhrá Gaeilge.