A constant daily downpour from the heavens outside failed to dampen the Oireachtas na Gaeilge festival fire as the annual great gathering of Irish language, music, song and dance lovers from all over the country convened at Hotel CityWest in Dublin. 

The event has become so large – with an estimated 10,000 people visiting 150 events spread over from Wednesday to Sunday – that few establishments can now accommodate it, Killarney’s The Gleneagle and Dublin’s Hotel CityWest being the appointed few.

The Galway contingent were there in force as usual, in search of fun and friends and ambitious for success. 

Top among the achievers was Roisín Elsafty, whose rich tones won her the Comórtas Sean-Nós na mBan award. 

A lifetime achievement award for his skills as a sports broadcaster was presented to Micheál Mac Donnchadha of RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, an award roundly agreed with judging by the volume of applause given at Wednesday night’s media award presentation. 

Media awards also went West to Séamus Ó Scanláin, (young broadcaster award), Gormfhlaith Ní Thuairisg (radio), Donnchadha Mac Con Iomaire (Bádóirí TV series) and TV series presenter Síle

NUIG students Ciara Ní Dhonnacha and Barry Ó Siochrú’s wit and argument fended off UCC, UCD and TCD rivals to their holy grail, the Comórtas Díospóireachta Gael Linn award. 

Ruadhán Ó Flatharta kept the Connemara trophy league on the rise as he step-danced his way to silverware at the Comórtas STEIP, one of the week’s most popular and televised events which draws contestants from beyond the Gaeltacht regions. Indreabhán’s Domhnall Ó Braonáin also achieved in the under-35 singing category. 

So, success for the West, but now all eyes turn to the big one. Oireachtas na Gaeilge itself is heading West next year as part of Galway 2020, the events to be held in Salthill hotels. A homecoming the Galway Oireachtas fans can look forward to. 

Seán Ó Mainnín