World Fleadh set to rock Castlebar

Castlebar is ready to rock this weekend with the arrival of the World Fleadh, the first time this Irish and Celtic music festival will be staged in the west of Ireland. Bucking all recessionary trends, music enthusiasts are expected to descend on Castlebar in their thousands for nine full days of world-class musical entertainment with the best of what Ireland has to offer on display.

This festival promises to be Ireland’s biggest Irish traditional, folk, Celtic, and country festival and is expected to attract thousands of visitors to Mayo with eight concerts scheduled at the Royal Theatre’s 2,000 seater venue.

The festival runs from today (Friday July 31 ) to Saturday August 8 and will feature some of Ireland’s top acts at the Royal Theatre.

Starting with the Saw Doctors tonight, other acts include Sharon Shannon, Frankie Gavin and De Dannan, Shane MacGowan, Moving Hearts, Randy Travis, Damien Dempsey, Mary Black, Kilfenora Céilí Band, The High Kings, Hal Ketchum, and Dolores Keane.

The festival, which was first staged in Kerry in 2006, was set up as a transient event which would move from location to location until it found its natural home, and organisers locally will be hoping that Castlebar fits that brief.

The festival office is located at the Royal Theatre and Event Centre with fringe events taking place at St Mary’s Hall in the GMIT, the Linenhall Arts Centre, The Welcome Inn Hotel, the Mall, and local pubs. There will be theatre, outdoor, and large scale concerts, céilís, music, song and dance master classes, workshops and demonstrations, a scheduled session trail, world title competitions, a world food and craft fair, a late night festival club, and a variety of fringe entertainment to cater for all tastes and ages.

Another exciting feature of this year’s festival is the announcement that Ireland’s Music Awards (IMA ) will take place in Castlebar during the festival. The Irish Country Music Awards (ICMA ) will also be hosted as part of the World Fleadh Festival 2009.

The man largely responsible for bringing the festival to Castlebar, Pat Jennings of the Royal Theatre and Event Centre, said: “I am delighted that Castlebar has been chosen to host the World Fleadh this year. With our long standing history and love for Irish music, I feel that the event is well positioned here in the west of Ireland and will flourish over time.”

Eric Cunningham, a native of Headford and founder of the festival, continues to act as festival director.

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