Local stars shine at Maiden City Fleadh Cheoil

August 26, 2013

At last weekend’s Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in Derry – the first time the event has been held north of the border – the efforts of local musicians and dancers were rewarded with a string of top prizes.

St Brigid’s Accordion Band in Jonesborough celebrated a double success with its senior band taking first place in the All-Ireland Senior Accordion band championship, while its Junior band was awarded second place in its competition.

Speaking after the win, Siobhan Rice, Drum Major said: “One of the proudest moments of my life happened today, to lead a fantastic band into an All-Ireland final and to win. Dedication is the key to our success.”

Following the competition the band took part in the colourful marching band parade through the streets of Derry where the Fleadh was in full swing.

Encouraging new members to consider joining, Siobhan added: “St Brigid’s always welcomes new members of any age from Primary One up to adults. So if you fancy learning a new skill or brush up on your musical skills come and see what the band does on Tuesday evenings in The Pastoral Centre in Jonesborough from 6.30pm or contact us after this time at the centre on 30848950 or send us a message on 07514310484.”

Another local band – 5-piece trad group Cúig – is also celebrating its success at Fleadh Cheoil.  The group walked off with the top prize in the Trad4Trocaire Battle of the Bands contest – a Fleadh fringe event.  The boys – Miceal Mullen from Killeavy, Camlough brothers Eoin and Cathal Murphy, and Ruairi and Ronan Stewart from Tyrone, performed in front of a live audience and a judging panel and, as winners, were rewarded with a support slot at the prestigious Templebar Tradfest and three days recording in the Clasac recording studios, Dublin.

As a result of this, fans are in for a treat as the band is expected to produce a CD in the coming months.

Hours after being confirmed as the winners of Battle of the Bands, Cúig performed live on TG4’s one-off series, ‘Fleadh Live’, sharing the stage with some of the top names in Irish trad music, such as Cara Dillon, Flook and Eleanor Shanley.

Over the weekend Cúig was the resident band on BBC Radio Ulster John Toal Show and also featured on The John Creedon Show on RTE.

To cap a memorable weekend, the lads were invited to perform twice on the festival Gig Rig, again sharing the stage with some great acts, and receiving a tremendous response from the audience.

Another notable success at the Fleadh was young Brendan O’Sullivan from Mullaghbawn, representing the Ring of Gullion CCE.  At just eight years old, Breandan took third place in the Under 12 Whistling competition.

Derry was also a memorable Fleadh for all-round talent star, Alana Flynn, also from Mullaghbawn.  An accomplished bodhran player, Alana featured on TG4’s Fleadh Live programme with her band Síoda.  She was also the winner of a gold medal in the Ladies Four Hand Team dance, where under the tutelage of the Majella McEntegart and her son David, the dancers achieved two firsts (Ladies Four Hand Team and Mixed Four Hand Team) and second place in the Mixed 8-Hand Team competition.

The dancers were: 8-Hand – Tomas Kelly, Daniel Donnelly, Gareth O’Connor, Gerard Mooney, Roisin Gray, Alana Keenan, Shaughnessy Molloy and Megan Toner.  Mixed 4 – Daniel Donnelly, Gareth O’Connor, Shaughnessy Molloy and Roisin Gray.  Ladies 4 – Rosie Doyle, Alana Flynn, Serena McVerry and Sarah Johnson

Majella McEntegart praised the hard work and dedication the dancers have put in over the last few months and congratulated them on their success. Teaching solo and ceili classes in the local area with classes in Lislea, Bessbrook, Dorsey and Forkhill, Majella can be contacted on 02830888556 and new pupils are always welcome.

The Derry Fleadh has been described by organisers as the ‘biggest ever’ with an estimated 430,000 people flocking to the city and Sunday’s closing ceremony, which traditionally attracts a huge crowd, was changed to ticket-only due the volume of people.

Director General of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Labhrás Ó Múrchu said the festival is likely to return to Derry in the future.