Limerick will benefit from the arrival of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann to Ennis in 2016, according to Fleadh Chairman Micheál O’Riabhaigh.
The city could profit from the 38 million Euro County Clare is expected to reel in during the August festival, with major boosts anticipated for the hospitality sector in particular.
While a specific figure for Limerick cannot be estimated at this time, Mr. O’Riabhaigh said it will certainly benefit in terms of trade. He told the Limerick Voice: “There will be a huge influx of people coming into Ennis and the county this August. Many of these people will be staying in Limerick, eating in Limerick and spending their money in Limerick so I would expect the city would benefit massively from it.”
According to Mr. O’Riabhaigh, accommodation, restaurants and pubs will gain hugely from the festival. He estimated that 40 percent of money spent would be in these areas. He added that the Fleadh also will give Ennis and surrounding towns the opportunity to generate repeat business, particularly with tourists coming from other countries.
Ennis and surrounding towns will be preparing to cater for up to 400,000 people with 20 percent of these coming from abroad. “With so many visitors coming from overseas we want them to enjoy the experience so that they will come back,” O’Riabhaigh said. “One important message I want to put out there is that the locals are the best sales people for the region. It is up to us to make sure the experience for people is a good one.”
One significant part of the committee’s proposal to host the music festival was Shannon Airport. Mr. O’Riabhaigh said: “90 percent of overseas tourists fly into Dublin, but we are lucky to have very easy access to Shannon in that you can hop into a car or hop onto a bus and be at your destination within 20 minutes.” He added, “Shannon Airport provides great channels for people to get to the West of Ireland, especially for visitors flying from the United States. It was an important part of our bid considering such a large number of people who attend the Fleadh each year are from overseas.”
Deputy Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, Councillor Gerald Mitchell, said Limerick County Council is willing to lend a helping hand in terms of advice and promotion if needed. Councillor Mitchell said: “The Fleadh will most definitely be a big boost for Ennis and for Limerick which is in striking distance and is one of the biggest cities in Ireland. The Fleadh will not only act as a showcase for Clare but for Limerick which is steeped in traditional music.”
The last time Ennis hosted Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann was 1977. Mr. O’Riabhaigh said that while he expects preparations for the coming year to be a “massive undertaking”, his committee has sought the advice of previous hosts Cavan, Derry and Sligo. A report commissioned by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann found that in 2013, the Fleadh generated £42m for Derry’s economy.
Last August’s festival received a record turnout with up to 450,000 people hitting Sligo and local traders reporting a 25 percent increase in footfall from the year previous.