Fleadh Cheoil

Comhaltas runs a number of annual festivals of Irish traditional music, song, dance, and language called Fleadh Cheoil — literally “Festival (or feast) of Music.” The Fleadh encompasses a range of entertainment activities including concerts, céili/set dancing, traditional sessions, etc plus competitions in music, song, language and dance at the local (County/Region) , provincial and All-Ireland levels.

The venue for the annual All-Ireland Fleadh is announced in September of the previous year, and with so much talent in town, the Fleadh attracts a huge following of music-lovers. The energy of this event can be hard to describe in words; you’d want to be there to see musical sessions breaking out spontaneously in every pub, hotel and street-corner!

Up to 12,000 performers participate at the Fleadh, with estimated attendance of over 250,000 people. While competition is an important element of the Fleadh, the event is a multi-faceted shop window for Irish culture.

Competition Structure

Competitors at the Fleadh are of any age, and come from around the world to compete. Competitions are in four age categories (Under 12, 12-15, 15-18 and Senior) and include most traditional Irish instruments (Fiddle, Flute, Uilleann Pipes, banjo, accordion, etc.) There are competitions for singing, both in English and in Irish and also for ensembles (pipe and ceílí bands, duets and trios, etc.).

Competitors from regions with qualifying rounds must first qualify at the regional level before competing in the championship round. In Ireland, for example, musicians must be among the prizewinners in their County and then Provincial Fleadh before heading to the final round at the All-Ireland.

At each level the competitor faces one or more Adjudicators, renowned experts in the performance and repertoire of Irish traditional music. Adjudicators make careful notes of each performance, which are then made available to the competitor after the event. Spectators also crowd the room, including friends, family, and well-wishers. At the end of the competition the adjudicator announces results, and often gives a few notes on what they were looking for in the performances.

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