Fleadh: Everybody’s flocking along to Cavan for trad music festival
A tidal wave of traditional music washed over Cavan yesterday as musicians from all over the world set up, tuned up and started to play.
There was no shortage of sessions to choose from as the town embraced its second Fleadh Cheoil in 56 years.
Seven of the 11 members of the Willis Clan from Nashville, Tennessee, drew appreciative gasps from the gathering crowd in the Market Square in the centre of the town.
Jessica (18), Jeremiah (17) Jennifer (15), Jeanette (14), Jackson (12), Jedi (11 today), Jasmine (8) and cousin Rebekah (15) are all multi-instrumentalists and dancers and were attending their third Fleadh Cheoil.
“Irish music is so upbeat. It's happy. It makes you want to get up and dance. Any music that does that is good,” said Jeremiah. He added that getting to play in Ireland “felt right”.
“You just don't get the chance anywhere else to play in sessions like you do here. You can just go into the pub and sit down and join in even if you don't know the tune,” he enthused.
Famed lilter and Cavan native, Seamus Fay (70), attended the last fleadh in Cavan in 1954 on his bicycle.
“There were just a couple of hundred people at it and I remember there were bicycles everywhere. The big attraction was the Kilfenora Ceili Band from Clare.
“This is a serious business altogether. I couldn't get the car into town today with the traffic,” he laughed.
Let Cavan Surprise You has been the motto of the organising committee behind this year's event and there have been plenty of unexpected surprises for the tens of thousands of visitors who have shown up.
Town manager Ger Finn told of a lady called Kathleen from Missouri who had shyly reported that she had lost her wallet at an event the previous night.
“The wallet was later handed in to the Garda station, complete with passport, cash and credit cards. She couldn't believe it,” he said.
And there was the American woman in the supermarket whose American Express Card would not work when she went to cash out.
“A local man behind her in the queue immediately offered to pay for her shopping — and they say Cavan people are supposed to be mean,” he said.