THE talented members of Comhaltas Baile Núis (Newcestown) made their mark at the recent Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann held in Drogheda.
Having taken Disneyland Paris by storm earlier this year and entertained hundreds at their summer residency at Acton’s Hotel in Kinsale the members of this small branch now have the medals and cups to back up their talent.
Chairman Pat O’Driscoll said they were delighted with the success of both their musicians and dancers.
‘Our success is definitely down to the members taking part in local fundraising concerts during the year. These events are the backbone of our success,’ said Pat.
‘What the committee in Comhaltas Baile Núis do is also amazing and without the help of Marina, Grett, Catherine and Colette we wouldn’t have the success we had. We have to thank the committees too in Newcestown National School and Community Hall, Coppeen National School and Castletown Community Hall for the use of their venues.’
Rian McCarthy from Bandon won two All-Ireland medals in Under 12’s for the banjo and bodhrán, while Tadhg O’ Riordan came third in banjo in the same age group.
‘It’s very unusual for one branch of Comhaltas to win two All-Ireland Fleadh medals and that happened to us twice this year. It’s practically unheard of that two people from the same branch would come in the top three for the same instruments.’
Other successful musicians included Aoibheann O’Driscoll who came third in Under 12’s bodhrán and second place in Under 12 ceilí drums. Sean Deasy also won first place in Under 15’s bodhran, while Hannah Hayes came second in Under 12 storytelling and Orlaith Deasy came second in Under 12 lilting.
Pat said they are delighted with the success of their dancers too with Katie Shanahan, Grace Hurley, Ray and Eamon Shanahan winning first place in the Senior’s Mixed four hand céilí dancing and the other teams managed to place in the top three in all competitions.
‘The classes run by Katie Shanahan have now become the most accomplished céilí dancing branch of Comhaltas in the county in the space of a year,’ said Pat.
‘Last year one dancing team from our branch qualified for the Munster Fleadh but this year we had 11 and out of that four of them managed to reach the All-Ireland final which is an achievement itself.’
Another interesting fact is that out of the 20 dancers represented at the Fleadh Cheoil, nine were boys with most of them only learning to dance last year.
Meanwhile, one of their former music tutors, Liam O’Mahony – who is better as known as ‘Banjo’ – was an escort at last week’s Rose of Tralee Festival. Liam taught banjo, concertina and drums to branch members for many years and left them last year after he moved to London.
Another Newcestown musician, Shane Scanlon, who is a member of Ballincollig Comhaltas ,excelled at this year’s Fleadh when he came first in both over 18s banjo and mandolin.