A visit by a group representing Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann to New York was hailed as “hugely beneficial” in terms of putting Sligo and this Summer’s upcoming Fleadh in the shop window for the Irish communities in the United States.
Bartley Gavin, Chair of Fleadh Cheoil 2015, described the aims of the 4 day trip last week as “to raise awareness of Fleadh 2015 among the sizable Irish communities in New York, to strengthen business and tourism links with the Sligo communities there, and to celebrate several screenings of the Fleadh film, The Sligo Masters, which took place at locations throughout the city over a number of days.”
The delegation, which was comprised of President of Comhaltas Vince Jordan, Director of Finance of Fleadh 2015 Peter Farrell, Chair of Sligo County Board of Comhaltas Máirtín Enright, Director of The Sligo Masters documentary Micheál Ó Domhnaill, and Mr. Gavin, left for New York last Monday for a whistle-stop trip which saw them conduct meetings with the new Consul General of New York, Barbara Jones, with a high level delegation representing Tourism Ireland, and with members of The New York-Sligo Association, all with the aims of promoting Sligo and the Fleadh.
“The meetings with the Consul and with Tourism Ireland were really beneficial,” said Mr. Gavin. “We had an in-depth meeting with a group which included Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland Alison Melcalfe and her team. We made a presentation to them outlining key information and data from the successful Fleadh in 2014, underlining the importance of gaining their support this year’s Fleadh throughout the United States.”
To that end, the Fleadh team received assurances that Tourism Ireland will work extensively to ensure that the Fleadh Cheoil is promoted widely through their networks, with the expectation that this will boost visitor numbers travelling from the United States in August of this year.
The trip to New York also coincided with three screenings of The Sligo Masters documentary, which was commissioned by Fleadh Cheoil 2014 and which played to three packed audiences at different locations around New York. The film’s premiere at the Irish Arts Center in Manhattan was full to capacity, as was the second screening at the Irish Consulate, before finishing the tour with a final day screening and music session at an open door event at Rory Dolan’s in Yonkers.
The opening night premiere also acted as a New York launch of Fleadh Cheoil 2015, where those in attendance were told of the plans for Fleadh Cheoil 2015, and where they were able to enjoy some of the spectacular video highlights from last year.
Having filmed so much of The Sligo Masters – a documentary on the lives of Michael Coleman, James Morrison and Paddy Killoran in New York, it was important for the production team to return to the city, where reaction to the film was hugely positive.
“We were made so welcome, it was great to see so many people at the screenings, and audience reaction was overwhelmingly positive,” was how the film’s director Micheál Ó Domhnaill described it. “The premiere was attended by many New York people with strong Sligo connections, and it was made even more special that we had in attendance some of the direct descendants of Michael Coleman and James Morrison.”
Now that this latest imaginative move to promote Fleadh Cheoil 2015 has come to a conclusion, the next steps for the Fleadh committee is to instigate a Volunteer Programme for the Summer’s Fleadh. “It was incredible that so many people signed up as Fleadh Volunteers last year, we want to redouble our efforts to get people on board earlier this time. That way we can ensure that volunteers are assigned to areas that best suit their skills, and we value the involvement of everybody from the town, county and beyond. Our aim is to make this year’s Fleadh even bigger and better than last year’s – and it’s only with the involvement of the community that we’ll be able to do this.”
For more information on how to register as a Fleadh 2015 volunteer, visit the Fleadh website on www.fleadhcheoil.ie.