Indoors and out there was a festive air as Mountmellick hosted the 2018 Laois Fleadh Cheoil organised by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
Competitions at the Community College and Arts Centre with a Gig Rig at the square allowed followers to enjoy the weather and the traditional arts at the same time.
Opening the fleadh, Co Chairman PJ Phelan complimented parents and guardians for giving students the opportunity to develop the skills which come from the Comhaltas system of training.
“These skills can be applied to all learning and work situations” he said, “competitions are for today; the skills of team working, memorising and concentration learned through traditional music are for life”.
The weekend opened and closed with dancing. On Fri Camross and Ratheniska showed their talents in Set and Ceili dancing respectively while Brendan and Eileen Reilly celebrated 40 years of competition with various partners, Betty Dunne and Paddy Martin completing the Ballyroan half-set on this occasion.
Sean nos dancing was kept alive by Sive Lalor whose stylish display earned her the P J Kennedy memorial trophy. Competitions were set aside on Monday and the Ownass Hall was alive with local and visiting dancers who ceilied to the sound of the Glenside band.
Inter-branch activity was concentrated on Saturday when Grupaí Ceoil and Ceili Bands performed from 11am until 9pm. Honours were shared between Portlaoise, Spinc, Camross and Ratheniska in the under age competitions with Spinc and Ratheniska going head to head in the senior group event which was the highlight of the evening.
Individual effort as well as duets and trios were to the fore on Sunday with members from all branches featuring in one event or another, Mountmellick being particularly prominent at spoken Irish Comhrá Gaeilge while Clonaslee also featured in several areas.
The county fleadh is organised by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and is open to all residents of Laois. Photographer Denis Byrne covered the event for the Leinster Express.
Several non-members of An Comhaltas will be amongst the 252 entries representing Laois at the Leinster provincial fleadh at Muine Bheag, Co Carlow 13/14/15 July.