Music at the Gate in session during last year's Fleadh Cheoil.
A full year before the 2018 Fleadh Cheoil came to Drogheda, local man Darragh Ó Héiligh, a devoted fan of Irish Music and an accomplished uilleann piper, had the brainwave of holding traditional Irish Music performances at Laurence’s Gate.
The idea became a reality with the hugely popular Music at the Gate series which gave musicians young and old a chance to play, sing or dance in public, for some it was their the first time to play in public.
Music at the Gate was a wonderful foretaste of the 2018 Fleadh Cheoil and also became part of the huge festival, drawing large crowds with TV images being broadcast all over the world of Drogheda’s local talent performing in front of the town’s iconic gate.
This year however, there is no mention of Music at the Gate on the Fleadh programme and, far from being supportive of Darragh’s achievements Louth County Council and the Fleadh Cheoil Executive Committee are, it seems to some, intent on ignoring him.
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Like most events, Music at the Gate required funding for things such as accommodation for travelling musicians, PA hire, transport and even protective barriers.
Each event cost in the region of €1,000 to stage but, so keen was he to use the build-up and legacy of the Fleadh to promote traditional Irish music in Drogheda by running monthly events at Laurence’s gate, Darragh paid for almost everything out of his own pocket.
Darragh approached the Fleadh Cheoil in January this year seeking their support to help him continue Music at the Gate at the 2019 Fleadh but he has not received a reply despite numerous emails.
“I would be happy to be able to pay for the whole thing again because I can really see the benefits of it but I have other things to do this year and can do without having to pay that kind of money on a local free event” Darragh told Drogheda Life.
“I need local organisational support to make this happen again and I’m just not getting it. The Louth Volunteer Centre are fantastic, they offered volunteers but what I need is for the Fleadh to get behind this and say ‘yes we’re going to allow this to run in a proper way during the festival."
Here's how RTÉ featured Music at the Gate during the 2018 Fleadh Cheoil: