Marie Walsh looks back on a wonderful year for Clifden Comhaltas
All Ireland Fleadh: After returning from the All Ireland Fleadh in Ennis, we can all reflect on what a great fleadh it was for us as a branch and also a great year indeed. To compete at the All Ireland Fleadh is a massive achievement. For the first time in quite a few years we got three grupai cheoils through – so that was already 60 people representing our area with pride in Ennis over the weekend of August 20.
With a new, three-day competition timetable, the fleadh was busier than ever –meaning record numbers and record traffic to go with them. The weather was far from kind and infringed on street activities and easy movement between venues, but all this failed to dampen our spirits as hundreds travelled from Connemara to compete in style.
First up on Friday, several solo competitors took part in what were extremely tight contests. Roars and shouts from the Clifden crew greeted the news that Kevin Holmes had taken an amazing second place in the 12-15 concertina competition –a very proud day for him and his family! Saturday saw the start of the group competitions and there was a busy day in store, with West Coast Under 15 and Senior groups taking part. Both performed to perfection and its’ all down to adjudicator’s tastes at this level.
Saturday also saw Luke Gannon recalling in the Under 18 button accordion competition, going on to take fourth place in what was one of the best Under 18 competitions in years. For young Seamus Flaherty, Saturday was going to be a day to remember – facing into seven solo competitions, it was a case of running from venue to venue.
But his talent was certainly rewarded and he took an amazing five first places and one second place! Seamus took first in Under 18 Tin Whistle, Harp, Harp Slow Airs, English Singing and Irish Singing; and second in Tin Whistle Slow Airs. As the phones were hopping with his results coming in, it was clear to see that everybody was so delighted for him – so well deserved! Sunday also saw our West Coast Grupa Ceol Under 18s perform to a packed dome. From their great performance we were all hopeful that a placing could be possible – and it was! The group took third place, a first for the branch in this category and one which meant 19 further All Ireland Medals were coming west.
Whilst we applaud all that gained medals, we must also remember that it’s not all about placing – its about playing your music, singing your songs, dancing your dances and most of all enjoying your excellent talents. Ennis drew to a close for us with Seamus taking part on Fleadh TV on the Sunday night. After that it was a run down to the dome to hear the highlight of the Fleadh for many, the Senior Ceili Bands Competition. With 19 bands and 3,000 people, this 5-hour extravaganza was a fantastic end to Ennis 2016.
Comhaltas Concert Tours of Canada and Ireland: It’s with great delight that we can announce that one of our sean nos dance members John Joyce from Recess has been selected to take part on the Comhaltas Tour of Ireland this year. The tour will visit 14 different venues on 14 different nights in October and we will publish the closest venue in the coming weeks so that hopefully people can travel and see John perform on the tour. A great achievement John – well done.
Seamus Flaherty, who selected last year for the Ireland British tour, has this year been selected to partake on the Comhaltas Tour of Canada in late September. Touring Canada for over 10 nights, we wish Seamus the very, very best!
TG4: We were delighted this year to have TG4 following our branch and our groups. As mentioned in previous articles, they have visited us here in Clifden many times during the year, filming practices and sessions and getting a feel for our branch. They also were following us around on the weekends of the county, Connacht and All Ireland Fleadh. The series will be broadcast on TG4 in October – a four part programme following three groups from all over Ireland.
It’s lovely to be one of them and we look forward to seeing all the fun we had during the year on screen. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more details.