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President of Ireland Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina at Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in Derry Photo by: Irish Times

430,000 visitors show up in Derry for annual Fleadh Cheoil

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President of Ireland Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina at Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in Derry Photo by: Irish Times

Over 430,000 people and 20,000 musicians and dancers showed up in Derry over 7 nights for the annual Fleadh Cheoil or Irish music festival.

Fleadh chairperson Eibhlin Ni Dhochartaigh stated the event was an incredible success Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Mayor of Derry Martin Reilly and Labhras O Murchu head of Comhaltas Ceolteoiri Eireann took part in the closing ceremony.

The opening was performed by President Michael D Higgins last week.

Mayor Martin Reilly called the event  “a phenomenal success”.

“Many a first has been achieved this week both in terms of the city hosting an event of this scale and one which has exceeded all expectations in terms of visitors to the city,” he added.

“Derry has a renewed sense of civic pride and can boast hosting a safe and enjoyable event one which has been embraced with community and business support. I want to extend an open welcome to those who were first time visitors to Derry to return.”

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Culture Company 2013 told the Irish Times; “Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann is always a special experience but this year as it came North for the first time and was hosted by a city for the first time, and in the context of an extraordinary year for Derry, it has been magical.”

“About 1,000 full and short-term jobs have been created thanks to this week and the UK City of Culture year so far,” said Sharon O’Connor chief executive of Derry City Council. “Hotels are reporting a 32 per cent rise on this time last year.”

“There are 40 new businesses in the city so far including a new hotel. But more important than that are the results of the public attitude surveys. We’ve been told that 96 per cent of the people of this city are much happier and more positive about the future.”

Ms O’Connor stated it was all about a fresh start for Derry, “We really want to create a better future here,” she said. “We’re not waiting for anyone to come to make it for us. A lot of people have negative images - when they think about Derry they think about the past so we really are out to show them a Derry that is full of color and opportunity.”

“There is no mystery about what the formula is here. There have been decades of investment in relationship-building, in communications, in trust, in confidence-building. It is a tribute to the people on both sides of the so-called divide. It’s a long-term investment and it’s a tribute to the people here that years of building a consensus has culminated in a week where we started with a wonderful Apprentice Boys celebration and ended with the biggest all-Ireland Fleadh that has ever been.”

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