Derry city
My visit last year to Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in Cavan Town in August gave ample evidence of the Living Tradition as practiced by the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann Movement.

The 10-day festival revolving around Scoil Eigse (music school) and competitions plus multi-faceted programming was a convincing reminder of how traditional Irish music reaches way more people than it is ever given credit for in Ireland.

The media was also full of the impact that a modern day fleadh can have on those towns that undertake the challenge of hosting one, with Cavan drawing well over 300,000 people over 10 days and a possible yield of 40 million.

No wonder the competition was so intense this past weekend when CCE’s ard chomhairle (executive board) gathered to consider three very strong bids to host in the year 2013 after Cavan completes a three-peat in August this year.
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I had one of the votes as a delegate from North America and it was a very tough decision for me, and in all honesty a much tougher one for people who live on the island of Ireland given a number of factors influencing the vote.

In Ennis and Sligo towns you had the choice of two bastions of traditional music going back to the last century where there was no doubt the fleadh would be well looked after.

But the third entry, the city of Derry (some may know it under another name) offered a historic choice as it would be the very first All-Ireland fleadh to be held in the six counties over the border.

Progress rather than fear and negativity carried the day, and a firm resolve to make a huge cultural statement for the island of Ireland in 2013 as part of the UK City of Culture.

That year-long celebration just might give Irish traditional music one of the biggest platforms it has ever enjoyed as the world watches closely for the critical interaction between the two largest communities sharing the isle.

I truly believe in this case that the 99% of the people who think positively about a fleadh in the North will win out over the 1% of the naysayers who continue to find fault with any attempts at peace and reconciliation.

And in these economic times, that is one competition that the Island of Ireland can’t afford to lose.

A Bodhran session during the Cavan Fleadh Cheoil 2010:

Another session in Cavan during Fleadh Cheoil 2010: