Belfast Telegraph

A bar rumoured to have made £1m, fans living in a horsebox rather than miss out... that's why the Fleadh may be back by 2016

by garret hargan

The All-Ireland Fleadh could be back in Londonderry as early as 2016, according to the head of the organising body.

The overwhelming success of the event has led to stories of some bars seeing a year's takings over the one week – with one rumoured to have cracked the £1m barrier.

Other fleadh tales include the report of people sleeping in horseboxes as there was not a bed left free in the the city.

Director general of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann Labhras O Murchu was one of the key figures responsible for bringing the fleadh to Derry.

He now believes there is a very real possibility that the Fleadh Cheoil could return to the city in just three years.

He added that the triumph of this year's festival and relationships forged over the course of the week will make it hard to overlook an application from Derry in the future.

Mr O Murchu said: "This year's event exceeded all expectations.

"The success of this year's festival has shown it was the right decision to bring it to Derry.

"The city should be very proud. The facilities were wonderful and above all else, the atmosphere of friendship and helpfulness made it a great experience.

"When Derry applied last time round there had to be a lot of negotiation to even make it to the table, but as this festival was such an outstanding success they will have a very strong case for hosting it again in 2016."

Realistically, the earliest the festival could return is 2016 as Sligo will hold the festival next year and possibly in 2015 as well.

An estimated 430,000, people including 20,000 musicians and dancers, flocked to Derry over the week.

Organisers said the festival, the first north of the border, drew the highest attendances in its 63-year history and was the biggest and most successful to date.

The event brought a bonanza for traders and the hot gossip around the city yesterday was that one bar complex had taken a £1m over the week.

A spokesman for the City Centre Initiative said: "We are awaiting news on official figures but I can say that it was a very successful week for traders, particularly the bars and hotels, which were full to capacity all week."

There was believed to be about 50 arrests for minor incidents involving disorderly behaviour.

Outspoken District Judge Barney McElholm said he had not seen a single fleadh-related case in his court and praised the Derry public for its behaviour.

PSNI District Commander Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin said: "Once again Derry has demonstrated its ability to host major events."

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