Home UK Festivals European Festivals US  Festivals Festival Shops Concert Tickets




The Fleadh Tour returns in 2007.  Mean Fidler used to run a one day festival at Finsbury Park but this year they have brought the event in doors.

Fleadh Line Up.

Fleadh Tickets

25th January 2007 Cardiff Arena

26th January 2007 Wembley Arena

27th January 2007 - Manchester Men Arena

10 Years of the FLEADH by Stuart Bailie
March 1999

When The Fleadh was first launched at Finsbury Park in 1990, it seemed like a mad, miraculous thing. Certainly the idea of celebrating Celtic culture, on a huge scale, in what was essentially a foreign capital, wasn't an obvious move. But the result was a tremendous day. Lots of excitement and pride. There was great music on offer, so many old friends to see, on a patch of grass in a dirty old town that was an honorary part of Ireland for a few very wet hours. Even the rain wasn't such a bad issue. People partied regardless of the mud, and Van Morrison changed a line in his 'Summertime In England' classic to mark the event. Instead of Van hearing a band playing from across the fields, it was now coming from "across the shuck". In slang terms, the "shuck" refers to a damp mess, or alternately, the Irish Sea. On this occasion I think Van meant both. And I swear he was laughing when he sang it.

1990 was a significant year in many ways. The Irish football team, under the leadership of Jack Charlton, was set to reach the quarter finals of the World Cup. In his honour, The Pogues had united with The Dubliners to record 'Jack's Heroes'. Young Irish comedians were taking over the comedy circuit. Sinead O'Connor was the most popular female artist of the year, topping the charts in 18 countries with 'Nothing Compares 2 U'. It was a beguiling era. The Waterboys, led by Edinburgh-born Mike Scott, had decamped to Connemara, seduced by the spirit of Irish traditional music. Van Morrison was on a creative roll that had begun with his 1988 Chieftains collaboration, 'Irish Heartbeat', leading on to the excellent 'Avalon Sunset' LP. In the spring of 1990, 'The Best Of Van Morrison' had reached number four in the UK charts.

It was practically cool to be Irish in Britain, something that hadn't always been the case. Many of the new Irish arrivals were young and highly educated, in search of prestigious jobs, lured by the late '80s London boom. They slotted in beside the older generation of immigrants, swelling the population of first and second generation Irish in Britain to two million. Half of those had settled in the south east. And on that majestic June day in 1990, it felt like most of them had descended on Finsbury Park.

The precedents for the Fleadh at home had been country fairs and more formal musical festivals. The first Irish Fleadh Ceoil took place in 1951 in Mullingar, and was organised by the Dublin-based Piper's Club, who developed into the Comhaltas Ceoltórí Éireann. The idea caught on, and soon there was craic and culture everywhere. A more funky development arose in the '70s, as Lisdoonvarna in County Clare became the location for the Irish version of Woodstock, with all the fun and excesses that the idea brings. Listen to the Christy Moore song, 'Lisdoonvarna' for an amusing portrayal of the mayhem that ensued.

And so the Finsbury Park Fleadh built on these past events, added a deal of rock and roll and some organisational savvy, and became a regular way to herald the summer season. For a time, it seemed that the repertoire of acts was too slim to warrant a return each year. But importantly, the Fleadh started to reflect the ongoing successes of the Irish music industry. So we could watch the rising fortunes of The Cranberries, Boyzone, Altan, Ash, The Divine Comedy and The Corrs alongside more established acts.

More than any festival of this scale, The Fleadh amounts to a family day out, with different generations enjoying the come-all-ye mood. The audiences, have been equally at home with the accordion playing of Sharon Shannon, the gris gris of Dr John, some of Cahal Coughlan's dissenter spleen and the quiet angst of The Beautiful South. 'Outsider' acts such as Crowded House, Sting and Billy Bragg have found a warm welcome, as have the range of Irish divas who have come to represent the essence of 'A Woman's Heart', the compilation album that made many of them famous at home. These have included Mary Black, Dolores Keane, Mary Coughlan, Sinead Lohan and Eleanor McAvoy. And of course, the Fleadh has been routinely served by Shane MacGowan, firstly with The Pogues and latterly with The Popes. He's been emblematic of the Yahoo attitude: spikey, uproarious, full of poetry and porter. One statistic tells us that on the day of the Fleadh each year, 5% of Britain's daily Guinness ration is consumed at Finsbury Park. Some years, as we staggered along the Seven Sisters Road at the call of the day, that statistic seemed like an understatement.

Fair play to The Mean Fiddler's Vince Power, a Waterford man who started it all by making a venue in Harlesden into a prime music location. He gave a sympathetic airing to roots and Irish music, thus fostering the Finsbury Park spirit. He made an inspired job out of hosting The Fleadh, and is now presenting his vision to the Americans and even bringing it all home to Ireland again. Dozens of festivals have taken place since that first Fleadh experience. Lots of them have been worthwhile. But few of them have actually mattered that much. For ten years now, the Fleadh has made a virtue out of national pride, personal pride, social bonding, culture, fervour and fun. Never just a mere lark in the park.