Heading to Fleadh Cheoil 2019? Here's everything you need to know
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Plenty of great music and craic to be had in Drogheda at Fleadh Cheoil 2019.
There's nothing like a good festival to make your break, and if you’ve never experienced Fleadh Cheoil, you’re missing out — big time. Last year, an estimated 500,000 people descended on Drogheda for the week of the festival and this summer an equally massive number is expected.
It’s happening in Drogheda once again (10-18 August) making it the perfect opportunity to sample one of the great summer festivals in one of the country’s most lively historic towns. And it's a great excuse to take a break in Ireland’s Ancient East and discover just how much the Wee County, Louth, has to offer.
Fleadh Cheoil is one of the longest running festivals in Ireland. It was established by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in 1951 and has got bigger and better with every passing year. The original ethos remains the same: celebrate the very best in Irish music, dancing, singing and culture. It’s little surprise that those who venture to the Fleadh end up coming back year in, year out.
This will be the 69th instalment and there’s a suitably packed programme. Every square inch of Drogheda is set to be taken over by ceilís and craic. There will be something for everyone.
As ever, at the Fleadh there’s a dizzying choice of live music to experience. Whether it’s free trad sessions, family-oriented singing and music competitions or must-see concerts. The latter take place in a variety of venues including the Fleadh Cheoil Concert Dome.
And it’s the Dome where you’ll want to be at 8pm on Saturday, 10 August, for a characteristically spirited show from Damien Dempsey. He’s something of a Fleadh stalwart at this stage and if you haven’t seen him live before you’re in for something special. He will be supported on a line-up that includes Téada with Seamus Begley, as well as Sárán and Tadhg Mulligan.
The Dome also hosts Zoe Conway, John McIntyre and the RTE Concert Orchestra at 8.30pm on 13 August, while St Peter’s Church is where you’ll need to be for Eleanor McEvoy and Damien Butcher at 6pm on 11 August. We’re very keen to check out trad icons Martin Hayes and Steve Cooney and they play the Augustinian Church (12 August).
Something for all
There’s no chance of being at a loose end at the Fleadh. There’s so much happening that your main worry will be working out what to do to in the packed programme. It’s a proper family festival too and everyone, young and old, will find something to enthral them among the ceilí dances, trad music sessions and sean nós singing competitions.
As always, there’s a strong emphasis on the next generation of musical talent: many of today’s brightest stars cut their teeth at the Fleadh over the years.
Those with a grá for Gaeilge will be in their element in Drogheda during Fleadh: the language truly comes to life in this vibrant celebration of Irish culture.
Grab a bite — and a bed
No matter what your culinary tastes may be, you’ll find something to satisfy your taste buds at the Fleadh. There’s a huge range of top-notch street food.
But don’t forget Drogheda’s buzzy cafe and restaurant scene too. Book a table at the Eastern Seaboard restaurant if you can — the Irish Times restaurant reviewer loved it, calling it “a Drogheda restaurant so good even Dundalk people like it”. Sounds good enough to us!
Check out of the Fleadh website for a comprehensive list of accommodation options — everything from guesthouses to hotels. If you can get yourself a room at the luxury four-star D Hotel in the heart of Drogheda you’ll be at the centre of it all.
Things to do Drogheda & beyond
There’s so much to see in Drogheda while you’re at the Fleadh. Don’t know about the ‘miracle’ of St Oliver Plunkett? His head is a national shrine and it’s housed at St Peter’s Church. It’s remarkably well preserved considering the former bishop was hanged, drawn and quartered way back in 1681.
You won’t want to miss Millmount Fort, either. It dates from the time of Cromwell and will really appeal to history buffs. Along with its fascinating history, visitors can enjoy panoramic views over the town.
Make more of your time in the Wee County with a northbound trip to Carlingford. It’s less than an hour from Drogheda and boasts some of the very best water sports in Ireland’s Ancient East.
The medieval heart of the town has associations with the Vikings. Think about the fearsome Scandinavian warriors sailing on these waters more than a millennium ago while you’re trying your hand at stand-up paddle boarding.
Make sure to make a night of it. There’s a huge selection of fine bars and restaurants — including the ever-popular PJ’s — and you won’t be stuck for somewhere to rest your head.
Accommodation: McKevitt’s Village Hotel. We can't really overstate how much we love Carlingford, and McKevitt's would be the perfect base for your time there. The location is excellent, and the Schooners Bar & Restaurant serves nothing but the best of food and drink.
A festival makes your break, so head to our Discover Ireland festivals hub to discover even more options to make your break in Ireland something magical.
Brought to you by Discover Ireland