Bring the All-Ireland Fleadh Back to Derry

Bring the All-Ireland Fleadh Back to Derry

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Steve Bradley started this petition

The All-Ireland Fleadh is the world's largest celebration of Irish music and culture. In 2013 the event was held in Derry as part of its 'City of Culture' year. It was the first time in the Fleadh's 62 year history that it was held either in Northern Ireland or in a city. And notably it was also the first time that music from the unionist tradition was included (something which Comhaltas has continued in other Fleadhs since). Derry's 2013 Fleadh proved to be a huge success - with over 430,000 people attending, making it the largest ever held. Events that usually attract crowds of just a few hundred people (e.g. the Céilí Band Final) drew crowds in their thousands instead. By any measure holding the 2013 Fleadh in Derry was groundbreaking and a genuinely successful move for all concerned. 

Despite the success of the Derry event, and gushing reviews from organisers Comhaltas Céoltóiri Éireann (CCE) about how great it was and how they'd be delighted to bring the Fleadh back again, there has been no sign of that happening since. Convention since the 1990s has been that the town awarded the Fleadh gets to host it for 2 years in a row (prior to that it was for three years). Despite this, the decision to grant the 2014 and 2015 Fleadh to Sligo had already been made prior to Derry even getting the chance to hold its 2013 event - so it was denied the chance to host it more than once. Since then Ennis (2016-17), Drogheda (2018-19) and Mullingar (2022) have all been awarded the event - with no mention of it ever returning to Derry again.

Since 2013, Derry's reputation and expertise at running large scale public events has grown even greater. The city's annual Halloween festival has led to it being recognised as one of the best places in the world to spend Halloween, and draws huge crowds to its multi-day events. Derry has also had significant success as a host city in the bi-annual Clipper round-the-world yacht race, which again visited Derry in July 2022. An All-Ireland Fleadh held in Derry now would be guaranteed to be even bigger and better than it was a decade ago. And it would finally undo the historic wrong that was created when Derry was denied the opportunity of hosting the event more than just once.

We therefore call on Derry City and Strabane District Council to put together a team of all appropriate stakeholders (including local CCE branches) with the purpose of securing the return of the All-Ireland Fleadh to the city at the earliest opportunity. The 2013 Fleadh was good for Derry, and Derry was good for the Fleadh. It will be even greater for both parties next time around when the event finally returns again to our city. So let's bring the Fleadh back home to Derry ! 

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