Wednesday, August 21, 2013

All Ireland Champion!!!

We've had a very fun and exciting week traveling to Ireland for the Fleadh Cheoil (All Ireland/world championships of Irish music) competition with Haley's friend, Sofia, and her mother, Kate. We were not going to go to the Fleadh this year...we thought Haley would take a year off this year since she will still be in the under 12 age group next year and we couldn't afford for more than two of us to go but my husband did not want Haley and I to go alone. Things changed after Sofia took 1st at the MidAtlantic Fleadh in under 12 slow airs and qualified to go. After a lot of discussion at home and through emails, Kate and I came up with a plan to travel together with the girls splitting costs when we could and keeping each other company.

So last Tuesday night we flew off to Dublin from JFK. We flew through the night, landed in Dublin at 9am then took a bus into the city for the day. Our first stop was the Drury Hotel where we checked in and dropped off our luggage. We then walked through the city, did a little shopping, walked through Dublinia, and St. Stephen's Green. We had dinner and brown bread ice cream.

Dublinia and Christ Church Cathedral

Viking rune rubbings of our names

Naughty girl
Swans at St. Stephen's Green
 After a very loud night in the little sleep. We headed back to the airport, picked up the car, and drove toward Derry with a quick stop at Knowth to see the passage tombs in the rain. We had a few moments of laughter (and terror...LOL) in the car driving on the left side of the road on the tiny little streets in the Ireland countryside but we made it safely to Derry. We then had some difficulty finding our B&B...again on tiny one car wide roads in the country. (Thank goodness no one was coming the other way!!!) But our host came out to find and rescue us and we found ourselves at the most beautiful B&B we've been in yet (Five Oaks B&B).

The next rainy morning we had a delicious full Irish breakfast, the girls practiced, then our hostess showed us how to get to the city and where to park. We walked across Peace Bridge, walked the walls around Derry, and saw all the sights. The girls did a little busking for pocket money then we found some dinner and went back to the B&B to relax.
Painted Samurai at Peace Bridge

Peace Bridge

Walking the walls around Derry

Fleadh in Derry 2013

Saturday was competition day. We woke early and had an early breakfast then headed to Ulster University to watch our friends in the under 15 division before Haley's competition. Haley's 1st competition was at noon. There were 14 really talented kids competing but Haley played her very best and came away with 1st in solo fiddle. The under 12 slow air competition was set to begin at 1:30 but the solo fiddle did not finish until 2:15 so as soon as we were finished, we rushed into the adjacent building for slow airs. We arrived when there were only two before Haley and Sofia (who were scheduled to be 11 and 12 out of 14). Haley and Sofia played really well. To our amazement, Haley took the trophy (1st place) in under 12 slow airs as well! It is an accomplishment to win an All Ireland title in one event but to win in two is very rare.

We ran from slow airs to see the under 18 duos compete because friends were competing in that then we rushed across campus to see if we could catch Haley's friend, Emily, competing in under 12 harp slow airs. We entered the room just as they called Emily's name! After Emily played, Haley said, "That was so beautiful I could not even breath!" We waited around for the results and Emily placed 1st! (The girls brought home three All Ireland cups to the CCE Delaware Valley!)

It was 8pm by the time we finished watching competitions and we were unable to find a restaurant without a huge wait (we heard there were 30, 000 people at the Fleadh!) so we grabbed a bite at the local supermarket then went back to the B&B to eat it.

The All Ireland Champions with friends and siblings
Sunday was a more relaxing day. We got up and ate our Irish breakfast then headed into town to see Haley's friend in the under 18 fiddle slow air and another friend in the Senior solo fiddle competitions. After the senior competition, the videographer from Comhaltas (the group that runs the Fleadh) asked Haley to play with the Senior All Ireland winner so he could record them together. We then had dinner at a restaurant with the best food and the girls, with their friend, Joanna, busked for awhile before we headed in for the night.

Haley performing with the Senior All Ireland Champion
Sofia, Haley, and Joanna

Monday was an early rise morning. We had to drive back to Dublin, 3 hours, to turn in our rental car before noon. We went to check into our hotel and then took a bus into the city for a walk around Trinity College, shopping, dinner and some more brown bread ice-cream.


Tuesday was our travel home day. We ran into friends at the airport and everyone was on the same flight. It was a bumpy ride home but we made it safely!

Haley with her fiddle teacher, Brian Conway
                       Here's Haley with her very proud teacher and her two All Ireland trophies!


Jacquelin said...

How exciting, Congratulations!

Jenny said...