Belfast Telegraph

Castlewellan could enjoy a £3m boost as Ulster Fleadh hits town

Crowds enjoying live street performances during last year’s Ulster Fleadh in Castlewellan
Crowds enjoying live street performances during last year’s Ulster Fleadh in Castlewellan
Young musician Cain Maginn plays the harp
Emma Deighan

By Emma Deighan

Castlewellan could be set to draw in almost £3m this month as it welcomes over 25,000 musicians and guests for the 2019 Ulster Fleadh.

It's the second year running for the Co Down town to host the traditional Irish music festival, and comes shortly after 18,000 people attended Castlewellan's annual agricultural show.

Organisers said the event over July 22-28, which "celebrates all that's good in Irish music, song and dance", was worth £2.5m to the town last year.

It marks the fourth consecutive year for Co Down to host the event, following Bangor's back-to-back stints in 2016 and 2017.

The Ulster Fleadh is a week-long festival of competitions, concerts, performances and cultural activities featuring well-known headline acts.

Last year more than 3,000 competitors from across Ulster took part, with more expected this year.

Some of the names on the bill include traditional artists such as Zoe Conway, Donal Lunny and Mairtin O'Connor.

Sign In

There will also be the return of the Ulster Fleadh parade followed by a firework display and open-air music all weekend with lots of free family entertainment.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council told The Belfast Telegraph that it "is delighted to support the Ulster Fleadh, Castlewellan 2019, which is an important event, attracting both day and overnight visitors and showcasing the beauty of our district".

It added: "The council believe that as a result of footfall generated through events like this, visitors are more likely to return to the area for sightseeing, embracing our offering of food and drink or attending other events.

"There is a clear economic benefit generated for the district both on the weekend of the event and following the event through further repeat visits."

Paddy Breen, chairman of the event, said: "We are hoping to go bigger and better this year as it is the 50th anniversary of our host branch, Newcastle CCE. Last year we welcomed nearly 25,000 visitors to the town over the course of the week's events.

"Visitors to the Ulster Fleadh come from all over Ireland and we attract a variety of visitors of all ages - there is something for everyone.

"We have a variety of street entertainment and workshops for younger visitors, while Castlewellan has fantastic hospitality to meet the needs of visitors who wish to join in sessions throughout the town. We pride ourselves in offering great value as an event, we have numerous free events and entertainment - we hope this will encourage visitors to spend their money in our wonderful cafes, shops, bars, restaurants and get a real experience of what Castlewellan has to offer."

Brendan McAleer, from festival organiser Ulster Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, said: "The Ulster Fleadh offers something for everyone, and with many of the events happening on the streets and free to attend, it's a great way to enjoy some culture and craic with friends and family."

Belfast Telegraph