A Bone playing demonstration by some of the best players in the locality.

One of the highlights of the year in the town of Abbeyfeale is the annual Fleadh by the Feale festival, celebrating the music, singing, and dancing traditions of the area and beyond. It has run since 1994, and is without a doubt, a festival of great repute within the traditional arts circle.
Not only that, but locals and visitors alike have enjoyed the wonderful atmosphere of the festival, which is held on the May bank holiday weekend annually. The festival has seen large attendances at the many events that it hosts, including concerts, street busking, a multitude of street entertaining including Wrenboy shows, afternoon dancing, and the All- Ireland bone playing championships. The pub trails ran every night and featured some of the county’s top musicians and singers. Workshops for student musicians and singers have always been a major feature of the fleadh and have proved to be very popular with local and visiting students.
Last year, like every other crowd gathering event, it had to be cancelled due to the onset of the pandemic. Down but never out, this year the hard- working committee are well prepared for the festival to resume during the upcoming May bank holiday weekend again.
The pandemic has forced us all to do things differently, and to find new and inventive ways of living. To this end, the Fleadh will be held, for this year, as a virtual event. But that by no means will hamper the enjoyment of it. The workshops are continuing and are now fully booked out. The concerts will be varied and many and held nightly. The All-Ireland Bone playing Championship has already taken place through Zoom, and the competition itself will be aired and the results will be announced during the festival.
Vincent Sheehy, Chairperson of the Fleadh by the Feale Committee said “We had many meetings with the Fleadh committee and put all of our Fleadh events in place for our 2020 fleadh, i.e., concert workshops, tutors and venues, but when the lockdown came in early March, we cancelled all events and hoped for a bigger and brighter Fleadh in 2021. By the end of 2020, a live in-person Fleadh was not realistic.
February 2021, we began to organize our first-ever virtual Fleadh, which was unknown territory for us. This will be our 27th Fleadh by the Feale. This we knew would take us out of our comfort zone, we drew on the IT and production skills of our ten strong committee members. Our children’s Art competitions took place online in early April of this year. Workshops taking place online give us a broad scope for our tutors as we had the whole world at our fingertips, Billy McComiskey on Accordion based in New York, USA, Oraith and Brogan McAuliffe on Flute and Concertina based in the UK and more locally, Elle Marie O’Dwyer our singer, Joseph McNulty on Fiddle and Tomas Ahern on Banjo.  Students from the UK, Spain, Germany, the USA, and Ireland have signed up for our workshops.
Our concerts taking place on Saturday and Sunday evenings at 8pm were recorded in our local hall, with local musicians, held within the guidelines of the covid restrictions. Our Bones competition has worldwide entries from the USA, UK, Spain, and Ireland, giving us 29 entries.  The competition goes out on Monday evening from 7:30pm with the winner being picked live online, and our weekend will have many clips from the older fleadhs and some new clips. We want to thank Limerick Arts Council, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and the local people for their continued support. “
All events can be viewed through the festival’s Facebook Page Fleadh by the Feale, and all links to the concerts, which are free of charge, will be available here.
We can assume that a certain level of travel restrictions will still be in place by this weekend, so what better way to enjoy the event than sitting back, in the comfort of one’s home, with a tipple of choice in hand, and enjoy a whole weekend of the best of traditional arts from our own local town of Abbeyfeale. Well done to the committee for keeping the show going during this trying time. Hopefully, we’ll all be back on the streets of Abbeyfeale for the event in May 2022.