Fleadh Cheoil, the largest traditional music festival in the world, is the culmination of competitions over the summer – from the Laois Fleadh Cheoil held in Abbeyleix in June, through the Leinster Fleadh in Dublin, and finally to the All-Ireland in Mullingar.
Although ‘All-Ireland’ is an understatement, with the diaspora from all over the world competing, including musicians from as far away as Melbourne.
Just to get to the All-Ireland finals is a major achievement for any musician, particularly one based in Leinster, which is extremely competitive.
All of the musicians who got to the starting line should be very proud of themselves, regardless of the medal results.
Spink Comhaltas was proud to have representatives at all four competition levels – and they all performed magnificently.
Spink took home 3 silver medals:
- Maébh Dunne, U-12 flute,
- Leah O’Donovan, U-15 concertina,
- Daniel Aylward, U-18 uileann pipes slow airs.
Other competitors were narrowly pipped for medals in their competitions, with Ailise Dowling-McDonald and Ciara Mackessy just outside the medal places.
However, competitions were not the only aspect that Spink musicians were involved in.
20 of the musicians, including singers and dancers, took to the main stage on Thursday evening to entertain the large crowd.
Earlier that evening, a number of the Spink musicians were part of a 140 strong Meitheal Trad Orchestra which performed in St Paul’s Church
A further group of Spink musicians were performing as part of the Leinster Youth Orchestra, led by Robert Harvey and Aaron Mackessy, both from Spink.
Finally, Spink was represented in the National Folk Orchestra of Ireland by David Vesey, who was also supporting the Meitheal Trad Orchestra earlier in the week.
Spink Comhaltas was not the only Laois branch in Mullingar, with very strong representation from all the Laois Comhaltas branches in both competitions and other aspects of the festival.
These Laois branches also enjoyed great medal results, including:
- Gold – Tadhg Dalton, Portlaoise, U-15 drums,
- Gold – Lily Butler, Portlaoise, U-12 Bodhran,
- Silver – Rian Nolan, Camross, U-12 Bodhran,
- Bronze – Edel Conway, Fionn Connolly and Nell Kettle, Portlaoise & Clonaslee, U-18 trios,
- Bronze – Noel Stapleton, Kilcavan, Senior Accordion,
- Bronze – Buggy School of Dancing, Portlaoise, Ladies U-18, 8-hand Céilí Dancing competition,
- Bronze – Buggy School of Dancing, Portlaoise, U-15 4-hand Céilí Dancing,
- Bronze – Ratheniska Comhaltas, U-12 8-hand Céilí Dancing.
Spink Comhaltas also sponsors one of the trophies at Fleadh Cheoil – the U-12 Melodeon competition, and congratulations to Seán Angland from Kerry who won this competition.
While the competitions might be over, Spink musicians still have a busy few weeks ahead, with the last of the summer seisiúns in Aylward Rural Museum on Wednesday August 16; a performance in Durrow library as part of Heritage Week on Thursday; The Power of Words Festival in Abbeyleix; and the end of year barbecue and awards on Friday, August 25.