fleadh

fleadh

OK someone has to ask. What’s a fleadh? How do you pronounce it?
I searched with no results.

Joe

Re: fleadh

FLA, In my best Cork accent.

Re: fleadh

Or, flaw, in Chicagoan.

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Fleadh - a festival of Irish music, usually with competitions in many instruments at a variety of age levels. In Ireland, first and second placed at county fleadhs get to compete at one of the four provincial fleadhs and subsequently winners and runners-up here get to compete in the all Ireland fleadh.

the -dh in fleadh is silent; the ‘h’ being a modifier of the ‘d’ rather than a ‘letter’ in the word; pronunciation is fla- with a long ‘a’ and the ‘l’ sounded like the ‘l’ in ‘lewd’ as pronounced in England.

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Speaking of lewd…

When I was a kid growing up in Cork, “fleadh” was also a euphamism for sexual intercourse. The present continuous was “fleadhing”.

That gave rise to a whole body of other uses for the word:

“fleadhed out” = “extremely tired”

“she’s a fleadh” = “my, what an extraordinarily good looking woman” : equivalent to Dublin’s “she’s a ride” (or more correctly, “she’s a roide”).

You can emphasise the degree of attractiveness (or tiredness) by lengthening the vowel sounds in the middle of the word. e.g. “she’s a flaaaa!”, “I’m flaaaaad out”.

To use these terms properly, don’t forget to add the obligatory “c’mere” to the beginning and “boy” to the end of your sentences (which when pronounced in the correct Cork way, comes out as “by”) e.g.:

“C’mere; she’s a flaaa, by!”

“C’mere; I’m flaaaad out, by!”

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I think the translation of the Irish word “Fleadh” means “Feast” and that’s exactly what you get - a feast of traditional music, song and dance. Dawross has already described the more formal aspect of competitions which are an integral part of the proceedings but to many people are just an excuse to be there! Most of us musicians think of the serious business of craic and traditional sessions in pubs, hotels, street corners,etc way into the night and early morning. There’s also the camaraderie and meeting of friends you may not have seen since the last Fleadh. It definitely is an event not to be missed and once you’ve experienced it you’re likely to be hooked for life!

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In case anyone comes across the word, the Welsh equivalent of fleadh is “eisteddfod” which has much the same general meaning of music/poetry competitions. A winner in the Welsh National Eisteddfod is the Welsh equivalent of an All-Ireland Champion. The word has long been hijacked by the English to refer to music competitions in England, usually of a local or regional nature.

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Hi Trevor

Is the Eisteddfod somewhat more inclusive than a Fleadh in that a wider variety of folk groups can enter? I know the McPeake family from Belfast won it back in the 60’s; does it follow the same format now as then?
Cheers

Con

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Thanks Jeremy and all. I’m reminded by your comment that nearly every word in American english is a euphamism for sexual intercourse! “Jazz” “Rock and Roll”
etc.
Fleadh pronunciation reminds me of this dumb joke from grade school:
Real Estate agent “Mam’, This is a house without a flaw.”
Southern Belle: “My goodness, what do ya’ll stand on?”

Joe

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Has anyone competed in the fleadhs in the States? What was your experience like?

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Having grown up in Wales, I’ve always had a slight feeling of dread about fleadhs in case they turned out to be like Eisteddfodau… I still haven’t been to one (a fleadh) yet but I must overcome this reticence, I’m sure they’re great.
Experience of an Eisteddfod: taking part in individual and choral recitation - that’s like a choir, except reciting a poem en masse, instead of singing - scary stuff. Watching ten or fifteen, or more, groups of children reciting the exact same poem with their hands behind their backs and their heads all bobbing in the same direction, one after the other. It has a surreal quality about it… but it’s not my idea of having a blast…

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Unfortunately, the average Londoner’s understanding of the word ‘Fleadh’ is somewhat warped by the ‘London Fleadh’, an event held annually in Finsbury Park, which has very little in common with the Fleadhanna Cheoil which are held throughout Ireland and its diaspora.

Incidentally, when browsing through last years All Ireland Fleadh results recently, I noticed that, in among the various instrumental and singing categories was a category entitled ‘Irish Conversation’.
I can’t work out how it is possible to have a competition in the art of conversation - in Irish, English or any other language. Does it involve a scripted dialogue? Does it take place on stage or a the fireside? Does the competitor speak with the adjudicator or in a group of competitors in the same age bracket? Does the competitior get to choose the subject of conversation, or is he or she required to discuss a particular topic (a la ‘Just a Minute’) - or tell stories? On what criteria are they judged? Where are the All Ireland Champions?

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David,
To my knowledge the competition in Irish Conversation is held in a room with the adjudicator and members of the public. The competitor speaks “as Gaeilge” to the adjudicator. They also recite a poem. I believe there must be certain specialised topics which the competitor must study/prepare.
Carrie*

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I’ve seen the Eisteddfod on telly (seriously this time) years ago - it seemed a very staid affair when I saw it - maybe it has improved in recent years.

The All-Ireland Fleadh is nothing like that (except at some of the competitions - but not many people can get into them, they’re so busy….so) mostly the Fleadh is wall-to-wall sessions, starting at
11am (or 9 am on the campsite) going on till 4 or 5 am (or 8.59 am on the campsite).

If your liver and bank balance can stand it, so does the consumption of black stuff go on for this time course……yes…..maybe you should have more than a slight feeling of dread about Fleadhs (sorry, Fleadhanna)……


I went to one fiddle competition in Enniscorthy, quite a young age group. I got there just when they were announcing the winner and runners-up, who then had to re-perform their showcase piece.
The place was heaving, but I spied one empty seat, to which I made a bee-line, then sat down.
After the thing had finished, I realised why people around me were smiling. Yep, you guessed it, I’d just taken the winner’s seat, which his parents had graciously allowed me to take, then smilingly thanked me when I embarrassedly and profusely apologetically offered it back…….ooops!!

Danny.

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Con

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Yep, Trevor - the Eisteddfod is geared towards all the performance arts - music, poetry, dancing… I don’t know what other categories there might be. They may have changed alot too, I haven’t been to one in over twenty years!
I didn’t know there *were* such things as English Eisteddfods!

I like Jeremy’s explanation about the colloquial meanings of ‘fleadh’. I don’t think ‘Eisteddfod’ will ever catch on the same way…

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May as well get my nation’s tuppenceworth in here…if anyone is in Scotland during the summer, you’ve got to get along to some of the big Highland Games meetings… particularly the Cowal Games, which, I remember, are sometime in September, in Dunoon. But there’s lots of other ones, all listed in tourist stuff.

Absolute heaven for me, in my younger days…loads of athletics events (good prizes, I remember), plus the unrivalled spectacle of the massed pipe bands after they had the piping competitions. Also the Scottish dancing competitions, tossing the caber, hammer throwing, the works…

{not much in the way of Sessions per se, but I bet one or two (Scottish sessions - and if not, why not, Midgierakers?) might be sneaking in at nearby pubs, at various Games}

Zina, I believe is Scotters-bound, some day soon, so do take note - the H.G.’s season starts about now….did you get that Zina?… Zina!!?…..ZINA!!….ZEEENAAAHH!!!

Hell. She’s gone already.

Danny.

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I competed in the northeast regional fleadh (U.S.) 3 times, and was sooooo nervous each time that I performed well below what I would have had I not been nervous. Too stressful if you ask me. It seems the kids don’t get as stressed as the “over 18” age group does.

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Okay, now it’s me who has to ask: how do you say Eisteddfod? I’ve studied just a bit of Irish, so it actually appears with some sense to me now, but Welsh is *definitely* Greek to me!
🙂 Colleen

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If you live in Sydney and you let McDonalds become the principal event sponsor, “Eisteddfod” is pronounced “Performing Arts Challenge”. Aaargh.

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A fairly close approximation to the pronunciation of “Eisteddfod” is “ice-teth-vod” (the “th” is hard as in “then”). The plural “eisteddfodau” is pronounced “ice-teth-vod-eye”.

Trevor

Re: fleadh

Danny
The Cowal games are always the last Sat in August.

Wille

Re: pronunciation of Welsh

Colleen, written Welsh is one of those languages where what you see in print is pretty well what you say, when you have learnt a handful of straightforward rules of course. Classical Greek is in the same category.
Trevor

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Thanks for the correction, Willie. That’s the same weekend as the all-Ireland Fleadh, bringing us back to that. As much as I’ve enjoyed the Cowal Games, I think I know where would I choose to go, were I to be going away then!

Danny.

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OK, onto yet another fleadh-related tangent:

Has anyone heard the song with this chorus?

"Mommas, don’t let your babies turn into fleadh ceol-boys
Don’t let ’em bash bodhrans and sleep in their suits
Leave ’em play boxes, concertinas and flutes
Mommas, don’t let your babies turn into fleadh ceol-boys
For they’re always unconscious or apt to throw punches
Even at someone they lo-ove."

I heard Johnny Moynihan sing it yonks ago, and have intermittently searched the ’Net for the lyrics, but without success.

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At the age of 5 or 6, I was pushed by my teacher into entering a few local piano competitions. At one of them, I was playing in a trio (i.e. 6 hands on one piano). My part consisted of two repeated notes thoughout the piece. Yet, somehow, I managed to lose my place. Not yet having mastered the art of extemporization, but having a modicum of musical taste, I decided, rather than try to pick up again, at the risk of making a terrible mess, that I would simply sit out of the remainder of the piece.

Of course, I now realize that this was an indication of discretion beyond my years. But at the time, and for some years after, I regarded it as indicative of my inability to play together with anyine else. It was not until I reached 15 or 16, when my urge to ‘start a band’ outweighed almost anything else, that I was able to think otherwise. I imagine a lot of young children entering fleadhs have their confidence similarly knocked - some of them perhaps potentially great musicians (I do not include myself here) who just aren’t made for the stage.

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“the translation of the Irish word ”Fleadh“ means ”Feast“ ”

“the Welsh equivalent of fleadh is ”eisteddfod“”

It should be pointed out that the word ‘eisteddfod’ comes from the verb ‘eistedd’ - ‘to sit’ - giving it somewhat more formal overtones. It might refer to the *eisteddfod chair* the highest honour awarded in the eisteddfod - or according to some, to the hours of sitting involved in attending an eisteddfod.