Lakeland Kayaks: Our Fleadh Top Picks!

We are getting very excited here at Lakeland Kayaks! Can you guess why? It’s July of course! After that statement you may wonder what is so special about this month. Well, we have a couple of very good reasons. First, it’s summer, which means that everyone, including us, is making the most of the fine weather and getting out and about on the water. As you may know, we’re based in Mullingar, which is renowned for its beautiful lakes. We love to see locals and tourists alike enjoying the water sports on offer – particularly the kayaking! Secondly, the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is coming to Mullingar this July. The Fleadh is taking place over the 31st July to the 7th August 2022, so we are counting down the days until it begins. The event is quite special for us this year. The very first Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann took place in Mullingar in 1951. This makes Mullingar not only the home of Lakeland Kayaks but also the Fleadh! Due to this, the Fleadh is known as ‘The Homecoming’ and we are delighted to see it coming back to its roots.

Normally in July we would be excited about our summer kayaking excursions. This year, however, we are doubly excited. Not only are we planning our kayaking trips but also our Fleadh must-sees. We are really looking forward to hearing the musical talent on offer during the event and there are some wonderful venues around the town that are being utilised for the occasion. We’ve had a chat with our colleagues here at Lakeland Kayaks to find out what events everyone is most looking forward to. It wasn’t possible to include all of the events that we wish to attend, there are just too many, but we thought we’d share some of our top picks with you.

One of the musicians that we’ll be sure to see is possibly the most renowned accordionist in Ireland, Sharon Shannon. Not only does she play the accordion, but also the fiddle, tin whistle, and melodeon. The County Clare woman has been a fixture on the Irish traditional music scene since she began performing at eight years of age. She released her own debut album in 1991 and was catapulted to fame in Ireland by her inclusion on the A Woman’s Heart album. In addition, she has made numerous appearances on The Late Late Show. Shannon is well-known for her arrangements of Irish tunes but she has also collaborated with many artists in different music genres. She worked with the reggae artist Dennis Bovell on her second album, which has quite a reggae feel to it. Many well-known Irish artists have also worked with Shannon, such as Christy Moore, Sinead O’Connor, Liam O’Maonlaí, Moya Brennan, and Dónal Lunny, among others. Sharon Shannon will be playing in the Cathedral of Christ the King on Monday 1st August at 7p.m. We’re sure that there will be a lot of demand for tickets!

We thought we’d better give a shout out to one of our own Mullingar natives performing at the Fleadh, Emmet Cahill. He is a singer with the group Celtic Thunder, an Irish singing group and stage show. Cahill also performs solo, selling out Carnegie Hall on his debut. He studied music at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, receiving a degree in Music Performance. In addition, he earned The John McCormack Bursary and has won multiple prizes at the National Feis Ceoil singing competitions. Cahill is performing in a double concert at the Fleadh this year singing alongside Galway native Seán Keane. Keane grew up in a musical household, learning the sean nós style of singing and collecting quite a number of competition medals along the way! He won a whopping 13 All-Ireland medals in the Fleadhanna Cheoil by the time he was a teenager. Now that is no mean feat! While Keane is currently a solo artist, he was a member of Segui, Reel Union, and Arcady, which also featured artists such as Sharon Shannon and Frances Black. With such impressive musical backgrounds as these two musicians have, this concert promises to be a wonderful evening of entertainment. The Cathedral of Christ the King is also the venue for these two and they are playing on Thursday 4th August at 7p.m.

It’s not just music that is on the menu during the Fleadh. Next on our must-see list is John B. Keane’s The Matchmaker. This play is based on Keane’s novella Letters of a Matchmaker, written in 1975. The play explores the loneliness that people experienced in rural Ireland. Familial responsibilities often meant that some were only free to look for companionship in later life. While the overall theme may give the opposite impression, the play is, in fact, a comedy. It follows the exploits of farmer Dicky Mick Dicky O’Connor as he attempts to match some country couples. There are some well-known faces in this production; it stars Mary McEvoy and Jon Kenny. Both perform a variety of characters in the play. Mary McEvoy is renowned for her role as Biddy in the long running television series, Glenroe. It was a Sunday night staple in many an Irish household! Jon Kenny is best known for being one half of the comedy duo the d’Unbelievables. We are very excited about this production and are looking forward to a night of merriment and mirth! The production is running over several nights during the Fleadh, so there is plenty of opportunity to get tickets. The show takes place in the Mullingar Arts Centre on 2nd, 3rd, & 4th August at 5:45 p.m.

We couldn’t have a list of Fleadh must-sees without featuring a céilí band! We feel that we are certainly in for a treat as the renowned Kilfenora Céilí Band are playing in Mullingar during the Fleadh. This band is one of the oldest céilí bands in Ireland, first coming together in 1909, and hailing from Kilfenora in Co. Clare. After winning three All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil titles in a row (1954-56) the band were in high demand and played on the céilí circuit all over Ireland. They continued in this fashion until the 90’s, when the age of many of the members meant that a change was necessary. The majority of the current line-up have been together since 1993. They repeated the success of the 50’s, entering and winning three All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil titles in a row (1994-96). Not only do they play sell-out shows in Irish venues, such as the National Concert Hall, but they tour internationally too. They are known for always performing their concerts at full competition strength; indeed, they are the only céilí band to do so. In addition, they have a Guinness World Record under their belts! In 2014 they created the largest céilí band ever, gathering 270 musicians to play a selection of jigs at a traditional music festival in Kilfenora. With such a musical history, there was no possibility of leaving this band off our list! They will be playing in the Cathedral of Christ the King on Saturday 6th August at 8:30 p.m.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading the list of Fleadh must-sees that we here at Lakeland Kayaks have put together. Of course, these are just our top picks; there are so many musicians that we would love to see over the course of the Fleadh and that are equally deserving of a mention. Many impassioned musical debates were had by our staff during the making of this list! As you’d expect, we will be making a serious effort to see as many of the concerts as we can. If you’re coming to Mullingar for the Fleadh, why not let us know what your top picks are? We’d love to hear from you so do pop in to say hello – we love meeting our customers, their kayaking companions (be they canine or otherwise!), and anyone at all who is interested in coming in for a chat about all things kayaking! You don’t need to be a seasoned kayaker either; we are always happy to give advice to anyone thinking about starting their kayaking journey.

For any of you looking for further information on kayaking, or the Fleadh, have a look at the links below. If you’d like to go kayaking during the Fleadh, have a look at our kayak rentals please feel free to call us and we can and arrange.

Also we have our brand new shiny SKIPJAK retail store open with a lovely coffee and refreshments garden with seating! This is at Harbour Street, Commons, Mullingar, Eircode N91 CC64. You will have to check this out!

For anyone interested in finding out more about the events on offer during the Fleadh, visit the official website. It provides a full event guide for the Fleadh, plus you can book your tickets here too.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published