As the National Ploughing Championships announce that they’re on their way back to Laois for 2023, let’s look at the many festivals that are making the Midlands ‘the home of events’ in Ireland.
Over 1 million people visited the Midlands region in recent months, attending a packed calendar of many of Ireland’s top Summer Events, whether it was Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann, the Ploughing Championships, Electric Picnic or the Tullamore Show, to name just a few!
When announcing next year’s event, the National Ploughing Association (NPA) said the 2022 event was “a triumph” and that Ratheniska has proved popular for several reasons, including its central location and surrounding road and rail network”
Laois woman Anna May McHugh added: “By and large, most people travelled to the site with ease and the minimum of traffic delays. This has certainly helped the event in being such a success this year and we look forward to 2023.”
Geographically, the centrality of the location for these large events makes it the most connected region on the island of Ireland. With it’s rail and road network, the Gardai have plenty of experience of making traffic plans in the region.
Electric Picnic boss Melvin Benn has confirmed the festival will also return again next year – with the same capacity as this year.
The Festival Republic chief said the return of the festival was a great success after a three year absence, with the capacity increasing from 55,000 capacity to 70,000.
In Westmeath, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann recently confirmed that the Fleadh Cheoil is returning to Mullingar next year. Mullingar hosted the Fleadh earlier this summer, welcoming in the region of 500,000 visitors to the town. The Fleadh Cheoil ’22 in Mullingar, has been widely-viewed as one of the most successful Fleadh Cheoil events to take place in Ireland in many years. It also had the added sparkle and world spotlight when Niall Horan and Lewis Capaldi rolled into town, cameras in tow.
Fleadh Chairman Joe Connaire said “The Fleadh is coming back to the Midlands. We’re absolutely delighted!” With an expected budget of €2m for next year’s Fleadh, Mr. Connaire said a fund-raising drive was now underway. According to the Westmeath Topic the spend was €30 million over the course of the festival.
In Offaly, the return of the Tullamore Show was a big success, returning again to the Butterfield Estate just outside the town. Over 60,000 people attended the show, the largest one day event of its kind in the country.
New to the Midlands Summer Festival calendar was the brand new Shine Festival in the stunning surrounds of Emo Court and Parklands in Co. Laois. A member of the organising committee, successful food producer Martin Crowley said he loves the Midlands for the space it gives him to think.
“There are 50 or 60 acres here in Emo and I could only meet a handful when I go on my morning walk. How many places can you say that about?” he says.
Now a member of Laois Chamber and an organiser of the Shine Festival, Martin moved to Laois from Cork in 1996, his wife was from Donegal and they saw Laois as an ideal location for family and business. In 1999 he started his very successful meat trading business ‘Wilbay Ltd’ in the county.
In his Corkonian brogue, he points out that he has had “far more dry days in Laois than I’ve had in Cork”. From the perspective of work, he believes when people have a good quality of life then they are are “happier and better” workers. He thinks living in Laois allows people work and “have time out with your family, or community, plus it’s only an hour from Croke Park or the airport”.
He believes if you pull from a resource of people who are happy, where they can earn a good living and enjoy life, this in essence leads to a great quality business and life balance.
Congratulations to all the organisers, committees, volunteers and workers who made the 2022 Events such a success, and thank you to all the visitors who came out in their droves to create one of the biggest, best and liveliest festival seasons yet!