World Fleadh Report

World Fleadh Report

Has anyone been to Ballybunnion for the World Fleadh and what was it like? Who are the new champions and what was the result of the Senior Céilí bands competition?

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Does anyone really care?

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Heard mixed reports. Not very well run apparently but some good performers. Didnt even know there were competitions. Dont think alot of people knew there were competitions as nobody was talking about this.

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Bannerman I think you are thinking of "All-Ireland" fleadh which is this weekend in Letterkenny and that has senior ceili band competition????

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turloghmore won the ceili band comp…

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Absolute travesty of an event Half of the performers didnt even turn up. Really badly run!

Any old fool could do better. i believe that there were ‘competitions’, and i use the word loosely, but had about 3 or 4 people in them, Whoever set this up should be ashamed of themselves

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I am refering to the ‘fleadh’ in Ballybunion not letterkenny, so there is no misunderstanding

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Well, there was a big spend on radio advertising in Ireland leading up to the event - maybe the emphasis was on getting ‘bums on seats’ for the gigs.

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Disappointing to hear the event was so poor considering the amount of money spent in promoting it in the national media, etc. I always had my doubts as some of the acts advertised would not appeal to most trad people. Congratulations to the Turloughmore though in taking the céilí band trophy.

As for Letterkenny, it’s now in full swing with the Éigse week - yesterday’s free concert for the students (and anyone else who was around) included Tommy Peoples, Micheál Ó Raghallaigh, Antáin Ó Faracháin, Louise Mulcahy to mention a few - it doesn’t get much better than that. There are also lots of sessions around the town from the high octane youth types to the more sedate ones for the more senior of us (well it sounds better than "old fogeys").

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"Whoever set this up should be ashamed of themselves" - aren’t you being just a little bit harsh there Michael.

As someone who has organised a Folk Club for 8 years, & a couple of wee festivals too over the years, I have an idea of a notion how hard it really is to get everything just right, especially if this is their first year.

Must say, I think that anyone who goes out there & tries to put on any sort of event is automatically putting their necks on the chopping block for every beer swilling, armchair critic to have a go at.
You must remember that these organisers never actually make any money themselves & they usually end up working their butts off all weekend, so they don’t even get a chance to enjoy themselves at their own festival - not to mention the months & months of preparation that goes into these events.

I personally think that the people who should actually be "ashamed of themselves" are all the drones & sheep who are always on the take & have never actually got involved in helping to run any of their own local events themselves but just go along to enjoy everything on a plate & slag off anything & everything that doesn’t quite suit them.

I have no idea if you fit into this category or not Michael?
If not, then you know exactly what I mean & if you were there yourself then fair enough, you speak from first hand experience, but surely if that were the case you would be more inclined to give the organisers the benefit of the doubt in their first year.
Perhaps a better course of action, rather than slagging them off might have been to offer them some advice from your own vast experiences in organising similar events.
This might help them to produce a better festival next year.

There could be any number of reasons why performers didn’t turn up but I’d say if a performer is booked to play, but simply doesn’t show up, then they should be named & shamed & it is they who should certainly be ashamed of themselves, for letting down not only the organisers but everyone who attended the event!

As for 3 or 4 competitors in each competition, well, it only takes two to make a competition! Just imagine John Carty & Frankie Gavin in competition? Now who wouldn’t turn up for that ……… & that’s only two!

To qualify what I’m saying, I am not really a big fan of competitions at all, so personally don’t really see the need for any of the Fleadh cpmpetitions, never mind any more in the form of this event or the Belfast one, but I applaud anyone who has the balls & energy to get off their fat arses & go out & - dae somethin’!

If it was meant to be, then they’ll probably get over the teething problems & it’ll slowly built into something special & be a credit to all those who were working hard behind the scenes for months & months beforehand.

If not, well hats off to them for at least trying!

Hussar, do we know if those concerts were well attended after all the radio plugs?

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By reports from the people who I know who were involved there were clear instances of poor communication and a bit of ‘taking things for granted’. The publicity drive seemed well organised though. Publicity before performers?

Re. the ‘competitions’. You now have people who could be justified in thinking that they are ‘world champion’ on their instrument after performing against only a small handful of other people. Even by general Irish music competition standards this is idiotic in the extreme and should be slagged, complained about and rejected at every possible opportunity.

Certianly that tabernacle of all things Irish and cultural "The Star" picked up on the new uilleann pipes "world champion" in its pages yesterday. What a load of substandard sh*te.

I’d rather see fewer, better concieved events than to see more of them sinking to this level of media dross/ lowest common denominator. There’s nothing wrong with being concerned with quality, especially in an atmosphere of ever decreasing awareness and standards.

Regards,

Harry.

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I have the general impression that the event was ‘commercially’ driven, with the aim of getting lots of punters into Ballybunion to spend their Euro, rather than run for benefit of musicians : I could be quite wrong and if so, I apologise.
It seem to me that there are these two types of festival. Of course there’s crossover in motives. It’s easy to see that the Willie Clancy and other weeks bring loads of business to town but the emphasis is very much on the musician.

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BTW, regardless of bums-in-seats, the event got a very signifigant amount of funding from the Arts Council. Irish tax payer’s money being spent in large quantities should always be of concern to Irish tax payers.

I’m all for tax payer’s money being spent on these things if they are well done. If they are not well done then serious questions need to be raised, and criticism is essntial in this process. There will be more criticism.

Regards,

Harry.

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I did consider attending this event but received quite a few warnings by word of mouth; allegedly some of the performers on the concert line-ups were unaware they were "booked" to play!

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Aye Hussar - "with the aim of getting lots of punters into Ballybunion to spend their Euro" - surely you can’t really blame them for this can you, but just so long as the musicians involved ‘are’ being looked after at the same time!

"It’s easy to see that the Willie Clancy and other weeks bring loads of business to town but the emphasis is very much on the musician." - & they have to be applauded for that surely.

I personally think that festivals like the Willie Clancy week got it right when they started small & then encouraged the event to grow naturally & organically.

However, I’d say any event which can offer to pay the cream of Irish musicians to play at home a little more often & not have to travel abroad ‘ALL’ the time to make their money, is doing something right.

I remember a time, in the 70s in Scotland, when the Folk Bands hardly ever appeared at home & spent most of their year on the continent or in the States.
It’s good to see that these musicians are now getting more & more opportunities to perform in front of their home crowds.

I know Harry says we should all be striving for quality, but I’m sure the many full time musicians who are trying hard to keep a roof over their heads, have to let their standards slip now & then to keep the dosh coming in & are consequently probably quite glad of the opportunity to slum it now & then at an average gig or take a chance at an event or festival which is just starting out & trying to find its way. They’re probably quite glad to be able to stay at home with their partners & family for a little longer each year too.

I’m sure we, at session.org, like to think of themselves as being a rather more discerning ITM audience than most, especially when it comes to Trad events, so, if there is any reality to that thought, then it may well speak volumes about this event that nobody here, at session.org has yet responded with eye witness reports from this event.

It might be helpful to hear from the horses mouth rather than us simply rely on gossip, heresay.
So come on, let’s hear from someone who was actually there or from any of the organisers themselves!

Hello ……………………..

On the competition front, I must admit I do find it all rather bizarre that we may now have a World Champion Bodhran player from this event, one from the recent World Bodhran Championships in Kerry, another from the World Irish Music Championships in Belfast & one from next weekends Fleadh in Letterkenny.

Are these all taken as just a bit of fun or do people believe that these are all serious titles of value, worth & merit. Even if there are lots of competitors at any one of these, does that really guarantee a high standard?

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I think the idea of a few differnt titles makes it a little more interesting, remember, Damien Mullane hold both the Comhaltas Senoir Accordion Title and the World Fleadh Accordion title at the moment ;)

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Ptarmigan, not wishing to defend competition (there are many arguments for and against) surely there’s more chance of a worthy title holder emerging from Letterkenny. Entrants have to prove themselves at County level and again at Provincial level before becoming eligible to compete in the All-Ireland whereas at these other events anyone can enter on the day.

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Yeah we should have unification bouts. 15 rounds, Queensbury rules. Secounds out!

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Now now Larsheen, thats all I was doing, a very little bit of a help out at that!!! I was in the various drinking establishments from monday evening til sunday afternoon and feeling a little worse for wear this week … Had a brilliant week down there all the same 🙂

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Yes Bannerman, I’ll grant you, it is more likely that someone at an All Ireland final is probably more likely to be a worthy winner, but it’s not guaranteed.
If they live in the heart of Ireland itself, then yes it means they have probably come through some stiff competition en route, but anyone outside Ireland might get a much easier passage.

I competed once in a solo competition at an All Ireland Fleadh, Clonmel.
I played the Concertina & met no other competitors at either County or Regional level, so arrived at the All Ireland competition itself - unchallanged!
On the day, of the two senior finalists who turned up, one young lady was dozed up with a rotten flu & didn’t play anything like her best, so until the last minute I was actually being ear-marked down as in first place, but fortunately the third competitor arrived just in the nick of time, played well & took first place, so I was second, having competed against the grand total of only TWO competitors!
It was so embarrassing, & thank goodness I wasn’t given first place as I am only a fairly mediocre player at best & it would have been just a joke for me to be promoted as an All Ireland Champion!
In that event I would have had to stop playing & change my name by deed poll to something plain like Ratarse Fartingay to blend away into obscurity!

As for it "meaning something" Larsheen, I learned just how valueless & meaningless an All Ireland title can actually be sometimes, so never went near it again after that!

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Dont forget, a certain Michael Flatley won the all Ireland flute in ‘75!

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The more i think about it, the more appealing having a number of high profile competitions becomes. (Cheers Conan for putting the unification idea in my head ;)

I’d almost compare competing in music competition to be a sport - you train before the event and your result is based on your performance on a given day. All sports have a number of prestigious titles - GAA there is the league and the championship, Golf has 4 majors, Tennis has 4 majors, Boxing has a number of belts.

Surely it would make it a lot more ‘interesting’ (not wanting to over use the word or anything) if competitors wanted to hold all titles at the same time … Imagine Tiger Woods heading to the USPGA having already won the Masters, US & British opens …

Like i said things would become a lot more interesting ;)

Overall I would have judged the World Fleadh to have been a success from a musicians point of view with the wonderful nights/mornings spend in the festival club (all be it in a bit of a drunken state) being the undoubted highlight for me 🙂

Congrats to Michael and Eric for organising the event and I’m sure it will be bigger and even better next year

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Flatley didn’t win the Senior. He tried that in ‘77, and came joint 2nd with Mick Gavin.

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Was that country to country or county to county Larsheen?

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"Flatley didn’t win the Senior. He tried that in ‘77, and came joint 2nd with Mick Gavin." - Yes, I was there that day too Kenny & I seem to remember they were called back for a head to head?

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bringing it back to an earlier comment by Ptarmigan : "You must remember that these organisers never actually make any money themselves"….. in reference to World Fleadh…. anyone else find this comment hilarious/side-splittingly funny/ironic??!!

(I’m not having a dig at you Ptarmigan - I see where you’re coming from though with regard to most other festivals….)

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Well I went down to Ballybunion, a bit reluctantly, last monday. I’d agreed to doing sessions at it but mostly out of curiosity. There was a lot of miscommunication, a bit of taking for granted, a bit of being messed around, but none of it was left unfixed. Session organisers did their best with what little authority they were given, and they had their fair share of upheaval too. Hats off to Pat Fleming and Sean Murphy.
All that said, it was a bloody good week! I just looked upon it as a paid holiday. Tunes were lovely, met loads of great people I hadn’t met before and had the best craic with them. Drank fair too much and I ache from playing but I came home with a big grin on my face and incriminating photographs !! What more do you want!

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"What more do you want!"
I want to see the photographs! 🙂

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I must say ye are the most negative lot here!!!

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Yes, Sarlfy, that is the standard response and is part of the reason why there is no grown up language of study and criticism in Irish traditional music. As long as the entrepreneurs have a smile on thier face and the money then ‘everything goes’, right?

From my dictionary:

"criticism"
Pronunciation: ‚kri-t„-ƒsi-z„m
Function: noun
Date: 1607

1 a : the act of criticizing usually unfavorably b : a critical observation or remark c : critique
2 : the art of evaluating or analyzing works of art or literature
3 : the scientific investigation of literary documents (as the Bible) in regard to such matters as origin, text, composition, or history

The first meaning is what people generally presume you mean when you talk about music/ cultural criticism (particularly in ITM circles), the second meaning is what is generally meant when people talk about criticism in the arts. Not that that means that there aren’t bad or unfair critics elsewhere in the arts, but there are some excellent ones who really know their stuff and can make good arguments for a variety of reasons (the best reason being to get their readers to think , or listen, from another point of view).

Regards,

Harry.

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Sarfly, just for the record & on the positive side, I spoke to someone at our session tonight who was ‘actually there’, on the Monday & Tuesday, & for what it’s worth, he had a great time at the Sessions he was at.

I’m afraid Sar, this site, like any other, is going to have its fair, or unfair, share of cynics & that this site is no exception is clear by the response to that ‘Old Fogey’ Bannerman’s original innocent questions. 🙂

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Culture for sale!! Culture for sale!!

(Idiots first please, there’s no room at the bar for consideration)

Who’s taking the "Art" out of "Arts Council" in this (rather simple) equation???

Guiness should look after music of such limited returns.

My smiley is on the inside,

Harry.

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Ya it was a fantastic week, of course there is always going to be positive and negative views and opinions but hey, I had a great week. The committee that week worked behind the scenes before and during the event and im sure after it should be given a great pat on the back for the time and effort and commitment they put in to the event to make it possible. As with all, there are ups and downs, positive and negative sides but that all goes with the show. Hopefully next year will be bigger and better.

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Actually, who from this discussion was actually there? From what I see Ptarmigan seems to be the only one with a postive outlook. Now never mind the hearsay, chit chat and gossip, unless you were actually there you will see the success it had. Another point is, yes all the acts turned up except for the Peatbog Faeries and Declan O Rourke, dont know the reason why and to be honest, of who I dont give two hoots about.

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i was there from saturday to monday and it was excellent…i stood for 10hrs in a car park and listened to loads of really excellent music, i drank pints out of plastic glasses for a fiver and ate (really nice) noodles from a van all for 45euro. from the top of my head, i spent lots of fivers(!), i saw frankie gavin and his hibernian thing, lunasa, mike mc goldrick and his band, solas, sharon and her band, le boutainne souriante(forgive the spelling) who were just brilliant…and more. if i’d gone to hear all of these individually my kids would have starved and i’d be siphoning gas for the car to escape the cops. sure there was problems in relation to organisation but having talked to the majority of the lads playing at the gigs (as opposed to the sessions) they’re praying that its repeated again next year. line checks (equivilant to a ‘aldi’ sound check), not enough rooms to go round, etc dampened the spirit for awhile but as with all good festivals, the crack was so good that the rest faded into the background. i think harry’s annoyed as he never gets asked to play at these things as he’d be considered too traditional for such popularity shows…liam clancy sang ‘all god’s (trad)creatures have a place in the choir’, maybe harry and tony mc could set up a trad ‘arts’ forum to educate us with their excellent unwavering thoughts of irish music and us plebs could have a go at getting THEM to ‘think , or listen, from another point of view’.

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Get a life wingers, I was there Monday thro Friday, excellent stuff , great effort by the organizers to make it work especially in a place like Ballybunion …. Hope the monies work out for the next one !

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Let those silly little terriers have their fun. We big ‘uns have far more important things to attend to. Woof!

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Dear Maryp,

Real ‘plebs’ don’t have a point of view of course, they just consume what they are given like good little grow bags.

The egalitarianisation of the arts (the arts of course being, always being, dominated by elitism) is too big and scary a topic for this forum where people seem to be afraid of reasoned, informed comment from certain points of view. I certainly won’t be discussing it with Mr. McMahon, I think I’m doing all right on my own steam. I believe thinking for one’s self is still advocated in some, small circles.

Re: Gigs. Don’t go looking for ‘em, don’t want ‘em. I have a day job thank the Gods. I do the odd thing that seems to have a bit of merit associated with it. I don’t have much of a performing ethic besides.

Regards,

Harry.

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Was at Ballyb. Loved it, especially the first half. Session trail went really well, with the musicians going out of their way to mix and play in each other’s sessions. Loved seeing McGoldrick and Hickey in the middle of it too.

Concerts shifted the emphasis at weekend, but were a little too ambitious. Weather turned, muck factor cam to town, and all the musicians started leaving for LetterK or for work Mon. Not a good idea to have a full line up on the Sunday, without a bank holiday.

Competitions will never compete with real thing, but seemed to give younger competitors a dry run opportunity.

All in all, had a great week, but was happy to leave. Says it all really….

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Eye witnesses wanted you have 3 of them here arrived Sat 12th too early for sessions but stayed in an idyllic cottage in Ballyduff great spot overlooking the sea and the event venue.I can not believe the negatives posted on this discussion the week started good and got better by the day as other musicians arrived sure there were organisational glitches but the two organisers worked tirelessly to sort them out they were excellent.Very very few acts failed to show all the previous hype about this being a con were complete rubbish.Almost every pub in the town held sessions and they were of a very high standard 3 musicians alloted to each session attracting the big names i personally was exceptionally lucky to not only meet but play next to Mike McGoldrick and John Joe Kelly who were there with their partners such nice people real musicians with no ego prolems which afflict so many other musicians in our beloved ITM paid to play on a stage but chose to come into the sessions- power to your elbows guys such an inspiration to all of us.Many musicians came down from Dublin and across from Cork all great characters and provided us with mighty sessions.If this event does not happen next year it will be catastrophic congratulations to each and every person involved in the planning and running of this refreshingly different event.Thanks to the Irish Arts Authorities and private individuals it was and hopefully will be again money well spent.

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As far as I’m aware the festival was organised commercially by individuals with a view to making a profit. One is a local who has taken advantage of young musicians in the past. No funding should have been given to it. I wonder if the session musicians knew that they would only be paid from Monday to Thursday before they arrived although they were booked to play from Monday till Sunday (a free weekend pass in return for playing from Friday to Sunday!!!!) and that they would be turfed out of the hotel on Friday to make room for the bigger names……Did anybody notice how no big name professional musicians were booked to play in the pubs from Friday to Sunday?????? Professional don’t do free gigs…..so why should the amateurs either…..especially when the whole thing is run with a view to making a profit….

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I was there the whole week, fantastic, expecially after to be in Letterkenny, we need more events as the world fleadh

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regog ive been hearing the same thing from a lot of people!! its a shame that people like this person are allowed to conduct business and take advantage of performers.

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Harry,
What’s your problem? All you do is write long, over winded replies. Get a life. Do you just spend your day writing this stuff? If you consider yourself a musician, then you would carry on with the music rather than the complaining.

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Bowandfiddle, the question is.. what is your problem? Harry is obviously trying to let his thoughts be known and you are slagging over this. In my opinion there is not enough people telling it like it is. Shame you can’t be as open minded - try to keep your comments to the subject hey!

The bottom line is that the organisers had a very obvious flaw of little experience in organising live public events. It is the truth and if you want to contest it, then you are the one lying to yourself.

This is not a ‘World Fleadh’. ‘World Fleadh’ suggests the notion of the event being held in a different location each year, guess what…, its not. Apparently, Ballybunion is a custom built village for this festival, again, its not. Two fabrications that these apparent organisers want people to believe.

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The World Fleadh was a very well run project and will not be held in Ballybunion next year but in fact in a bigger town where it can hold a larger crowd. Because this year was such a great success, this years punters and musicians, im sure, will be at next years along with new visitors and each year maturing. Personally I think it went well and there is/was no flaws to it. Yes ok there was rumours going around that such a musician/band/performer wasnt paid but this is not true, they all were.

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Sarfly, We must have been at two separate festivals then

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Guys, it’s good to hear from anyone who was there & has actual 1st hand experience of this event, rather than just judging its succes or failure from rumour.

But at the same time bowandfiddle, Harry B has as much right to voice his opinion here as anyone else & if you consider for a moment how few top class players actually take the time & effort to contribute to this site, I think you would be very foolish to chase him away with uncalled for remarks.

At least Harry gave an opinion - we are still waiting for yours? 😉

Michael - "the organisers had a very obvious flaw of little experience in organising live public events." OK - so this project may have been a little ambitious for them, but if so, it sounds like they ‘got away with it’ & will be better prepared for next year’s event.
Also, if they have no previous experience, how else do they gain 1st hand experience?

Also Michael - "no big name professional musicians were booked to play in the pubs from Friday to Sunday?" - thinking of the massive crowds, I actually wonder how many of them would have relished that chore anyway?

‘World Fleadh’ may not be the most appropriate title perhaps but should we just scrap it, because of its name?

Hopefully at least one of the organisers will have been reading this thread & with any luck, the whole organising team will take on board any criticisms of this year’s event & improve on the event for next year.
It’s always going to be hard to please everyone though!

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I have been on the committee for a number of months, and guys, unless ye have the experience in organising you will understand the work that has been put in to the festival

However, your criticisms will be taken on board for next year and on behalf of the committee and organisers, we would like to thank all who attended and enjoyed the festival.

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twf, the question is, do you?? because from what i saw it was a diaster!
For many years now, i have been involved with festivals in the us, and i found this festival an insult to the irish tradition. as Ptarmigan rightly stated Ive ‘as much right to voice’ my opinion as anyone else!