Festival celebrating Irish music

Fleadh CheoiI na hEireann, Ireland Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann is a festival celebrating Irish music, song, dance and culture, held on and around the last weekend of August annually. Organized by Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann (CCE), the Fleadh is held to coincide with the UK Bank Holiday to facilitate the large numbers of visitors from Britain who attend the Fleadh each year. In any year, over the week, the Fleadh will attract between 130 000 to 150 000 people to the host area. The First Fleadh was organized by The Pipers’ Club from Dublin, and held in Mullingar on Whit Weekend 1951 in conjunction with ‘Feis Lar na hEireann’. The stated aim of the event was ‘to restore to its rightful place the traditional music of Ireland’ by bringing to the midland town ‘the cream of traditional musicians from the four corners of Ireland’. The first Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann attracted only a few hundred hardened but enthusiastic patrons. Within 5 years, this annual gathering had grown to a national festival attracting many tens of thousands of visitors. Nowadays, the Fleadh is a major international festival drawing visitors from all five continents. With the growth in popularity of ‘World Music’ and the phenomenal interest globally in Irish culture, the amount of visitors from abroad coming to Fleadhanna is increasing exponentially each year. At the heart of the Fleadh are competitions around which all other events revolve. To advance to these, competitors must first come through County and Provincial series, with qualifying provinces being the four provinces of Ireland plus Britain, North America and other various regions of the world. In all, there are almost 150 competitions covering soloists and groups, in music, song, dance, and in such varied disciplines as fiddle, slow airs and Pipe Bands. The venues required for the competitions will need to accommodate audiences of 50 up to 1500 indoors and up to 12 000 outdoors for Marching Bands. Considering that in terms of competitions alone the Fleadh attracts over 3000 qualifiers, the scale of the festival can begin to be appreciated. So successful is the event in terms of visitors that it is the policy of CCE’s Ard Comhairle not to promote the Fleadh aggressively because if this is done the belief is that there is not a town in Ireland that could host it. The attendance at the Fleadh in 1999 exceeded the estimates provided beforehand by previous organizers. Going on earlier occasions, the local committee expected the total visitor numbers to be around 160 000/170 000, based on information that they had received from other host towns. However, most accurate estimates suggest that spectacular numbers of people attended the Fleadh Cheoil. As with all outdoor events it is difficult to quantify the exact numbers of visitors, but estimates from the Gardai would suggest that there were between 80 000 and 100 000 people in the town both Saturday and Sunday. The estimate for Friday is between 40 000 and 60 000 visitors. Certainly, the cumulative figure for the 3 days, the Gardai believe, was easily in excess of 200 000. Enniscorthy Gardai have considerable expertise in this regard, having been involved in major events over the past few years, such as Le Tour de France en Irlande 1998, 1998 Bi-Centenary Celebrations, and the National Ploughing Championships in 1994 and 1998. The attendance at the Ploughing Championships is easier to quantify, as entry to this event is through ‘turnstiles’, and the Gardai are confident in their belief that the numbers attending the Fleadh were well in excess of the 150 000 who would regularly attend the 3-day ploughing event. These figures are confirmed by Comhaltas Árd Comhairle members and Árd Stiúrhtóir Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú.. Regular Fleadh observers, their estimate is that the attendance was up at least 30 per cent on the usual 160 000 expected to attend. All the empirical data available to the Fleadh Committee would seem to support the above claims: Attendance at competitions up by 25 per cent Sale of programmes up by 33 per cent Attendance at concerts and ceilithe up by 25 per cent Overall Fleadh revenue from activities, with no price increases on previous years, up by 36 per cent. While better organization and financial control could explain some of these increases, the best and most likely explanation for this positive variance has to be a visitor volume increase of at least 30 per cent. With a normal increase of 12–15 per cent for a town hosting the Fleadh for the second time, the organizers have been told to expect an increase closer to 20 per cent for August 2000, bringing the total figures for visitors to the town to nearly a quarter of a million people for the whole week. Clonmel gearing up for another Fleadh Cheoil 2004 (Eamonn Lacey) Clonmel is gearing up to host another spectacular Fleadh Cheoil with preparations well advanced for one of Europe’s biggest cultural festivals this August when up to a quarter of a million visitors will converge on the town. When Fleadh Fever hits Clonmel this August the town will open its doors and hearts to offer a warm welcome to 10 000 musicians from all over the world. The traditional Fleadh Cheoil weekend will take place from Friday 27th to Sunday 29th August, and will be preceded by Seachtain na hEigse, Scoil Eigse and Seachtain na Gaeilge. A new Ard Ollamh will be crowned during Seachtain na hEigse, the new dimension introduced to Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann last year by the Clonmel organizing committee. The honour will be bestowed by Comhaltas Eireann on Tomas O’Caninn, who succeeds composer Micheal O’Suilleabhain, who became the first Supreme Bard of the Fleadh Cheoil last year in his home town. The Fleadh Cheoil, now ranked as the biggest cultural festival in Europe, will bring an estimated €15m bonanza to the host town of Clonmel with another €6 million generated in income for accommodation. A fireworks display will be held on the Saturday night and a Fleadh village will be created in the grounds of the High School with the erection of two domes. This year a huge emphasis is being put on street entertainment. Two gig rigs will be located at Sarsfield Street and the Mick Delahunty Square area, while a number of designated music session areas will be located all over the town. Market Place will host an open-air ceili at 2 pm on the Saturday and Sunday. Under new Chairman Tom Pollard, the organizing committee is endeavouring to ensure that Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann 2004 is a huge success. ‘We are confident that Fleadh Cheoilna hEireann 2004 will be a major success story. We are working with the support of the entire community and no effort is being spared to ensure that Clonmel will host one of the most memorable events in the history of the Fleadh Cheoil’, said Chairman Tom Pollard. A massive €400 000 fundraising drive is already well underway and finance committee Chairman Michael Campbell is leading a high-powered team towards that target. ‘We have received a fantastic response in the town and throughout South Tipperary. The corporate and business sector are anxious to be associated with the success story that is the Fleadh Cheoil in Clonmel, and business interests in the town want to get on board’, said Michael Campbell. Accommodation staff in the Fleadh Cheoil office in Parnell Street are inundated with requests for beds in Clonmel from all over the world. Like every Fleadh Cheoil there will be an international dimension with a big overseas contingent expected to arrive in Clonmel. Bo Junior Fiddlers, a band from Norway, are already booked into accommodation in Carrick on Suir and they will perform over the weekend. Two domes will be located in the grounds of Clonmel High School. Musicians, singers and dancers will compete for a coveted All-Ireland title in 28 different competitions at 19 venues throughout the town. Over 800 young musicians will attend Scoil Eigse, the traditional school of music song and language, in the week leading up to the Fleadh Cheoil weekend. The build-up to the traditional Fleadh Cheoil weekend will be hectic, with the busy Seachtain na hEigse schedule of concerts and high-profile events and Seachtain na Gaeilge activities including an opening concert drama, Trath na Gceist and Ionad na Gaeilge in Clonmel library. (Extract from website; for more information see www.clonmelfleadh.com and the Fleadh office at County Wexford on www.wexford-online.com.) 1. How could forecasting assist the organizing committee generate the € 400 000 required to stage this event? 2. What measures have been used in the past to forecast attendance? 3. What techniques could be used to forecast accommodation requirements?