This years Fleadh Cheoil Na hEireann returned to the beautiful west of Ireland for the second year in succession. Sligo town seen an estimated 400,000 visitors and 10,000 competitors converge upon the streets to celebrate the largest annual Irish traditional music, song and dance festival in the world which ran from the 9th-16th of August.
President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins launched the weeks festivities with a very powerful and moving speech from the Gig-rig at the opening ceremony. This kicked off the first day of the fleadh and created a buzz of excitement that continued throughout the week.
There was plenty to see and do for all the family from street entertainment, craft fairs, markets, heritage trails, tours of the wild atlantic way or the W.B Yeats trail experience. This was in addition to the live music and craic on the bustling streets and inside the busy bars and restaurants. The Fleadh continues to be a meeting place for old friends while new friendships are created through the international language of music.
Monday the 10th saw a group of our young members start their week long Scoil Eigse classes. Scoil Eigse gives everyone the opportunity to take part in the various instrumental music, singing, dancing and Irish language classes. Classes boast a low pupil to teacher ratio and are led by a team of international tutors who are also master performers. These tutors have proven track records and they bring a wealth of performance and teaching experience, reflecting the underlying educational philosophy of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann. All our members thoroughly enjoyed their individual experiences at Scoil Eigse but all to quickly the weekend was upon us and it was competition time.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday saw all our members take to the stage and those who competed played, sang and whistled fantastically. Chairperson of the branch Roisin Howell said both her and the committee are immensely proud of you all, you are a credit to yourselves, your families, your tutors and everyone at Newcastle CCE is honoured to have you as members. For some members and their families this was their first experience of an All Ireland Fleadh and needless to say accomodation is already being sought for next year.
The following people represented our branch;
- Niamh Howell, Matthew McAstocker & Ciara Maguire in the 15-18 Trio.
- Ruairi Howell in the 12-15 Uilleann Pipes.
- Terry Cowan in the newly composed song.
- Niamh Howell in the 15-18 concertina.
- Aidan Finnegan in the 15-18 Bodhran.
- Paul Rush in the Over 18 Ceili band Drums.
- Over 18 Grupa Cheoil Members = Siobhan and James Walsh, Eimear and Cormac Hyland, Caitlin Bloomer, Noleen Jaidane, Maria McGrady, Deirdre Hayes, Claire Stratton-Savage, Bronagh Sawey, Sharon McCawley-Breen, Patricia Savage, Sean O’Neill, Dearbhla McDonnagh, Sean O’Baoill and Terry Cowan.
However, two of our youngest members returned home as All Ireland medallists.
Castlewellan’s young Ruairi Howell competed in the mouth whistling 12-15 age group having won gold at the Ulster Fleadh a few weeks ago. Ruairi has also been Ulster champion for the last five years in this competition! Ruairi first discovered he could mouth whistle many years ago and he is self taught. He practices daily around the house driving his siblings crazy! He faced stiff competition from 12 others and when the adjudicator stepped up to give her verdict she spoke of how pleased she was to see such a huge revival in what was one of the oldest traditional forms of sharing traditional music even when there was no instrument. When announcing the results she spoke of the three that she had placed, saying she had awared them medals as each of them whistled with confidence and conviction like they would if they were in a session. Ruairi was awarded the bronze medal which was accepted on his behalf by his mum Roisin, as Ruairi was then competing in his Uilleann Pipes competition; a very busy fleadh for Ruairi indeed! Many congratulations to you and your extremely proud parents Karl and Roisin from all at Newcastle CCE.
Representing our branch in the ladies singing under 12 age group was 10 year old Cathleen Garland from Dundrum. Cathleen is this years Ulster Fleadh Champion and again she faced stiff competition from 14 other girls but she kept her nerve and she sang The sweet maid of Gurteen and The Creggan White Hare. The Sweet Maid of Gurteen is a Silgo song and Cathleen and her family got the opportunity to visit Gurteen while they were down at the fleadh this year. After much deliberating by the adjudicators, it was result time. The adjudicator said they were looking for song choice and the interpretation of the song and the ability of the competitor to tell a story through the song. They were also looking for a very traditional style with nice natural use of ornamentation. Eventually Cathleen was awarded second place, and her friend from Co Fermanagh Aoife O’Reilly who had came second to Cathleen at the Ulster Fleadh got awarded the bronze. Our heartiest and sincerest congratulations go out to Cathleen and her very proud mum and dad, Roisin and Seamus for winning this much sought after accolade in her first year competing at an All Ireland Fleadh. Cathleen is now just looking forward to getting back to her traditional singing classes to continue learning more new songs. She will be an inspiration to all of our up and coming young singers at the branch, who, under the tutelage of Terry Cowan and Annemarie Martin will no doubt hope to emulate Cathleens great achievement.
But all too soon it was Sunday evening and the large crowds that had gathered on the streets were entertained with the visiting marching bands parading through the town. Then the crowd got what they where all eagerly waiting for, the newly crowned All Ireland Senior Ceili Band champions 2015 from Shandrum, Co Cork. Alan Finn on button accordian had a few of our young female members (Ciara, Niamh & Caitlin) screaming for more, and Alan and his bandmates certainly new how to entertain the crowd.
The closing ceremony of the Fleadh saw a fantastic display of fireworks as the Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann was handed over to Ennis, Co Clare for 2016.
Classes will commence again on Thursday 24th and Saturday 26th September in the Lodge Cultural Centre, Castlewellan. Come along and enroll yourself or your children (or both) at one of our registration sessions. Anyone that is currently hiring an instrument, could you please bring it along on the 5th of september for inspection and rehire if needed / return if not needed.
- Saturday 5th September from 10am-12noon – FOR CURRENT MEMBERS ONLY!
- Thursday 10th September from 7pm -9pm
- Saturday 12th September from 10am-12noon
Classes available in tin whistle, flute, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar, bodhran, drums, piano and button accordion, concertina, uileann pipes, harp, junior and senior set dancing, traditional singing, all levels of Irish language and music theory / grades.
Children must be Primary 3+. All returning members and new members can look forward to another fun filled year of sessions, trips, concerts, social events and much much more.
An Caislean Nua CCÉ abu!!!!!!!!