Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Fleadh expected to boost the economy of Castlewellan by £2.25m

By Ryan McAleer

A Co Down town is set for a £2.25m economic boost when it hosts the Ulster Fleadh later this month.

Castlewellan will be the venue for the traditional Irish music festival from July 23-29, with 25,000 visitors expected in the area over that period.

It's the third year running that the Ulster Fleadh will be in Co Down. Bangor hosted the event in 2016 and 2017.

Bangor's hospitality industry said it considered last year's event in particular to have been a major success for the seaside town.

Comhaltas, the organisation that promotes traditional Irish music and culture around the world, said the 2017 festival had also reached new audiences.

Martyn Wolsey, who runs The Rabbit Rooms bar and restaurant in Bangor, said that the festival had brought a significant boost for businesses.

"It was probably the best week we've ever had, to be quite honest, for trade and tourists, and that includes Christmas. It was just all-day trade, it was brilliant."

He said the success of the event in Bangor in 2016 and 2017 had created an appetite for more traditional music events and festivals in the town.

"Certainly the Fleadh helped us an awful lot, the whole town got a lift. We were the base of the Fleadh so we probably got the biggest boost, but every other bar in Bangor got a good lift from it."

Castlewellan business owner Caitriona McCabe, who runs Urban Coffee on Main Street, said the buzz was already building ahead of the 2018 festival.

She said the business community in the town had enjoyed a good level of communication with the organisers at Comhaltas.

She added: "We definitely feel well informed and actually feel like a part of something really exciting. The buzz is going to be something we haven't experienced before as 25,000 people descend on our little town."

The cafe wasn't in business when the town last hosted the Ulster Fleadh in 2010.

"We are super excited for the economic boom it will bring local business, but also to showcase our stunning town, forest park and history.

"I'm sure without doubt a large portion of the visitors will want to come back after the fact for a day trip or weekend once they experience our hospitality and community spirit."

Urban Coffee will be among the businesses which will host Fleadh-related events.

The cafe will the venue for the Irish conversation and coffee morning at 10am on Wednesday, July 25.

"We have been planning and scheduling already and have hired in some extra hands in the hopes of providing our excellent service and maintaining our high quality that we are known for," said Ms McCabe.

"Its going to be a very special week for all ages and families and we hope everyone has an amazing time and enjoys all the events, there's something for everyone."

Belfast Telegraph

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