The recent Laois Fleadh in Mountmellick. Pic: Denis Byrne
A bid is to be made to host the All Ireland Fleadh in Laois in 2019, bringing thousands of visitors and millions to the economy.
Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is the world’s largest annual celebration of Irish music, language, song and dance.
The massive event, in full swing in Drogheda last week, gets 400,000 visitors and is estimated to bring €10 million to the local economy.
Chairman of Laois Comhaltas and Portlaoise Comhaltas PJ Phelan, believes Laois is perfect for the next event, and the time is right.
“We think Laois and Portlaoise is the best venue, with our proven accessibility for big events like the Ploughing Championships and Electric Picnic,” he said.
“We have new facilities in all our new and refurbished schools in Portlaoise, which are the principal venues for competitions. We have plenty of halls and we have world class hotels” he said.
The payoff is huge.
“It brings immediate income of €10 million to the local economy. The long term benefit is the branding of Laois as a tourist destination and an event base. We could feature visits to places like the new Slieve Bloom bike trail, Emo Court and Donaghmore famine workhouse, places many people don’t know we have. It brings huge publicity. People watch Fleadh TV, and its on all the national news and media,” he said.
The competition will be fierce to host the 2019 fleadh. Each of the four provinces nominates a venue. Leinster counties already bidding include Westmeath, Offaly and Wexford. It was in Tullamore for three years in a row.
Hosting it requires the support of business, schools, sport and community groups. Already Laois County Council and Laois GAA county board have pledged their backing.
“Now our work begins. Our next step is to form a committee to progress the project. We need the support of business and community and sporting organisations including rugby, soccer and GAA. This is not just for use of their facilities, but of stewards with local knowledge to direct traffic and help visitors. To submit the bid we need €100,000 in an account so we need commitments. That isn’t too difficult as the fleadh generates a lot of income,” PJ said said.
The bid needs to be formalised by Christmas.
“This requires a massive community effort but we see it as a opportunity for all of Laois to work together on something. Even just making the bid will forge new connections county wide,” PJ said.
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