All-Ireland Fleadh: Derry alive with the beat of the bodhran and lilt of the fiddle
The Londonderry air was alive with the sound of music as the All-Ireland Fleadh got under way for the first time north of the border.
Derry feels as though there must be a musician inside every bar, restaurant, cafe and even shopping centre as fiddlers and harpists serenade the city, while the beat of the bodhran sweeps visitors along the streets.
The Secretary of State was among the tens of thousands sampling the best of Irish culture yesterday on the streets – in between the showers of rain – at the start of a varied programme of events running until Sunday.
Theresa Villiers was at the North West College where she met students of instrumental music, singing, dancing and Irish language classes attending the At Scoil Eigse – just one of a cornucopia of events taking place and expected to draw 300,000 visitors to Derry this week.
The incredible economic benefits that the fleadh will reap for Derry are already visible.
Hotel occupancy rates are expected to reach 100% by the end of the week, with many more visitors staying in campsites.
Among today's events are walking tours in the Irish language beginning at the Culturlann in Great James' Street and proceeding to Rossville Street, Bloody Sunday Monument, Hunger Strike Monument, Free Derry Wall and Bogside Murals; and the Derry Walls.
A number of workshops by dance theatre group Fidget Feet continue this week at Culturlann with a workshop for parents and child that will allow the participants to experience what it feels like to fly through the air in some simple but safe circus tricks using an aerial cocoon.
The same group will also hold a Rap & Beats workshop at the Gasyard Centre for young rappers – who will be mixing it up in both Irish and English.
At lunchtime tomorrow the entertainment is equally eclectic, ranging from a ceili for young people at the Gasyard Centre to an organ recital at St Columb's Cathedral by Dean of Derry, the Rev William Morton.
The film The Bothy Boy follows the musical career of Micheál Ó Domhnaill – musician, composer, arranger, producer and member of one of the most influential traditional Irish group of all time, The Bothy Band.
It will be screened at the Nerve Centre.