Belfast misses out on hosting Ireland’s Fleadh Cheoil music festival

Belfast has failed to host Ireland’s biggest traditional music festival after organizers confirmed the Fleadh Cheoil would return to Mullingar.

The Northern Irish capital was in the running alongside Wexford to host the annual festival, but next year’s event will be held in Co Westmeath in the Republic.

Mullingar hosted the Fleadh last month which attracted hundreds of thousands to enjoy the 150 competitions on display.

This year marked a return for the festival after being canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year’s staging of the traveling festival has been dubbed ‘The Homecoming’ as the city was the first to host Fleadh over 70 years ago in 1951.

The opening ceremony commemorated the tragic elementary school teacher and talented traditional musician Ashling Murphy, 23, who was killed in January while jogging along a canal in Tullamore, Co. Offaly.

Irish President Michael D. Higgins also emphasized the continuing importance of traditional music in Irish culture.

Welcoming the news for next year, Joe Connaire of the Fleadh Executive Committee said: “It has been a huge privilege to host this fantastic event and showcase Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands to a global audience.”

“Today’s news is a testament to the Comhaltas Volunteers Committee, with the support of Westmeath County Council, and the passion that was mustered together to make this year’s Fleadh a resounding and unforgettable success.”

In 2013, The Fleadh came to Northern Ireland for the first time in its 60 year history when Derry hosted the event.

It is the only time it has ever been held here.

It was revealed last month that TUV Ards and North Down Borough Councilor Stephen Cooper was trying to stop a council letter of support to Belfast City Council and Ards Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, who had submitted Belfast’s bid.

Despite the letter of support recommended by officials at Ards and North Down Borough Council, the TUV councilor said the council should only “take note” of the recommendation and not support it.

Other unionists on the council supported the letter.

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