Over the weekend the Irish Times reported on fears over the Feis Ceoil’s future, following a budget crisis and the need for resources to maintain and grow the competition:
Over the years, the Feis Ceoil has grown from its starting point of 32 different competitions categories to the 177 it now boasts. Choirs, orchestras, ensembles and soloists on all manner of instruments from eight years old upwards have been steadily convening in halls and venues in and around the RDS in Ballsbridge since last Monday for this annual event, which has expanded to such an extent that it now spans a full fortnight […] the Feis Ceoil has only faltered on one occasion, when it was cancelled six years ago during the height of the foot-and-mouth crisis.
“Apart from that it has always gone ahead,” says Carmel Byrne, who has been the Feis Ceoil administrator for the past 10 years. “Through wars and the Easter Rising, and the Talbot Street bombing and everything, they still went on with the Feis.”
Now it seems that an event world wars couldn’t hold back may be threatened instead by lack of funds, even as its popularity thrives and the number of entrants increases on an annual basis. It is its exponential growth that may even bring about its downfall, explains Deirdre Kelleher, who has been on the Feis Ceoil’s board of directors for three decades. “The Feis Ceoil has expanded and there are more people, therefore more usage of halls, therefore more time spent,” she says. “The artistic cost of living has caught up with us.”
With a €100,000 budget shortfall due to the departure of Siemens, their sponsor of 22 years, the Feis is appealing to government and private sponsors to keep the competition going. A petition to government has been launched by the Feis; details are available from their website.