Fleadh 2020 is unmissable – despite cancellation of official festival

galway daily fleadgh cheoil 2020 music tg4
Seamus Ó Flatharta and Caoimhe Ní Fhlatharta

Fleadh Ceoil na hÉireann was set to take place in Mullingar this year, but despite the pandemic and the fleadh being put off until 2021, an unmissable virtual celebration will take place this week on TG4.

Fleadh2020, a four-night celebration, will take place from from Thursday 6 August until Sunday 9 August and will feature Galway musicians such as Liz and Yvonne Kane from Letterfrack, and Sarah McHale from Athenry.

The gathering will see traditional musicians from around the world who, under normal circumstances, would be coming together to celebrate the All-Ireland Fleadh – ‘The Homecoming’ – this month.

Over the four nights, the fleadh will capture the essence of this annual event – the music, song and dance and the stories – and present a unique insight into the fleadh community, across Ireland and around the world.

From Brisbane to Buncrana the young and the old, the learners and the legends come together contribute to a fleadh like never before.

On each of the 4 nights at 9.30pm Dáithí Ó Sé, Doireann Ní Ghlacáin and Kieran Hanrahan will take viewers on a journey through a different province starting with Munster, through Connacht, Ulster and, finally, Leinster.

Each night also includes music from musicians around the world – from Scotland, New York, Tokyo and Brisbane and plenty of chat and fleadh stories along the way too.

The programmes

On Thursday the 6th of August, Fleadh2020 will kick off with a celebration of all things Munster with music from the Crossfields Céilí Band from Freemount in Cork, Meabh Begley from Baile na nGall, Mick Flannery- Cork and Susan O’Neill from Ennis, Aidan and Aine O’Donnell and friends from Tipperary, last year’s u-12 fiddle champion Laoise Ni Chinnéide with Brian Morrissey  from Tipperary and Chris Kelly- Galway, the five Fitzgibbon siblings from Croom, Co. Limerick, the Droney family from Co. Clare, and traditional music’s legendary duo, Seamus Begley and Steve Cooney.

For the second programme on Friday night the focus is on Connacht, where we will meet the Kane sisters, Liz and Yvonne, along with dancer Nathan Pilatzke; brother and sister Seamus O Flatharta and Caoimhe Ní Fhlatharta from Carna; Fergal Scahill from Corofin and Ryan Molloy with young fiddle player, Sarah McHale, from Athenry.

Also featuring on Friday’s programme are the Bofield Comhaltas group from Ballina Co. Mayo, young musicians from Sligo who perform with harper-composer, Michael Rooney, the O’Fatharta family from Moycullen, the Moylurg Céilí Band from Co. Roscommon – and legends Matt Molloy from Westport and John Carty from Boyle. 

For night 3, Saturday night, the fleadh delves into Ulster with music from The Blackwater Céilí Band,  Donegal’s 13-strong female fiddle group, Sí fiddlers, featuring Mairead Ní Mhaonaigh, Bríd Harper and Liz Doherty, dance sensation David Geaney who performs a live version of one of his online collaborations with dancers, Ailbhe Liu and Seoda Wang from Donegal, the Ards Comhaltas group from Co. Down, last year’s u-12 whistling champion, Seán McAleer , the Molloy family from Derry, Armagh’s Brian Finnegan along with his 10-year old student, Odhrán Woods, some of the mighty young musicians from across the province including Jack Warnock, Eimhear Mulholland, John McCann, Oisín Murphy, Dearbhla Scallon, and the Walls sisters, and trad super group, Beoga.

The last night of fleadh2020 on Sunday night focuses on music from Leinster. There will be an opening set of tunes from Fleadh Chairperson Joe Connaire and friends, music from Attracta Brady and friends with young dancer, Cormac Lynch, singer-songwriter, Lisa O’Neill, fiddle music from Paddy, Kevin and Doireann Glackin, young multi-instrumentalist, Ademar O’Connor, some of the finest traditional music teachers including Kieran Hanrahan, Tom Doorley, Enda Seery and Damaris Woods, and a celebration of 30 years of Four Men and a Dog with special guests Gerry ‘Banjo’ O’Connor, Mick Daly and Brian McGrath.