Just a quick post to share the results of our weekend in Chicago for the Midwest Fleadh Choeoil.  It was, as usual, quite the adventure.  The Chicago Irish-American Heritage Center rolled out the red carpet to locals and those-from-afar alike.  It was our second time back there and it felt like home, being welcomed by old friends and a familiar locale.

The Riley School  was well represented this year by the young-uns.  Only a couple of Senior (adult) level competitors competed and the rest were kids.  (Congrats to Patrick, 2nd in Sr. fiddle and Kathy, 3rd in  Sr. English singing and 1st in Sr. Original song composition!!)  My son Jack competed again this year in fiddle as well as banjo and won both.  Fiddle was the biggie, with more competition and really where his heart was. He won first prize in both, qualifying him to compete again in Ireland this summer.

I simply don’t know how these kids (or the Sr. solo competitors, for that matter) do it.  They go up, in front of adjudicators (who are the best in their field) and play or sing  – ALONE – and get feedback.  It’s nerve wracking.  At least as a parent.  Somehow the kids just do it.  And do it well.

After a day of solo competitions for many of the kids, it was time for the band competitions.  Riley School fielded 2 bands, an under-18 Grupa Cheoil (Irish for Music Group) and an under-12 Ceili.  Most of the kids were new-comers to this HUGE room FILLED with onlookers and it must have been intimidating.  But they showed up and played their best and we were so proud of them.

Even the little kids ‘represented’.  It was awesome.

and exhausting.

But the Fleadh is not all about competition.  It’s also about making new friends, catching up with old friends, and most importantly, having a few tunes.  After the long evening of band competitions, there were many sessions in which to take part.  Some were dark and intimate and perfect for story sharing and tune swapping.

While others were huge, filled with the level of spot-on musicianship for which we attend the fleadh in the first place.

Congratulations to all who competed in, participated in, played their first tune in, this year’s Fleadh Cheoil. It was mighty and I’m already counting the days to next year….

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