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Successful County Fleadh for An Bonnán Buí

June 8, 2015

“Armagh can expect to have strong representation at this year’s Ulster Fleadh Cheoil thanks, in no small part to the good work of the CCE An Bonnán Buí branch based in Crossmaglen. Winners in the majority of the instrumental competitions at U12 and U15 age groups shows that there is a blooming musical youth group who will grow to be as proficient, perhaps, at their music as their counterparts in football are in theirs. The An Bonnán Buí branch is small but according to their chairperson Paula Daly, “(We) have always focused on quality over quantity.” This couldn’t be any truer in the case of Aine May Mc Creesh who, at only 7 years of age, managed to win the U12 Ladies Ballads Singing competition. Singing tutor Pearse Mc Manon is convinced she is one of the brightest prospects he has seen in some time. “When I listen to Aine May sing, I know that singers like Sarah Anne O Neill will never be gone. I hear the same tone, the same lilt and expression in her voice. It’s quite uncanny!”

Success in other singing competitions was the order of the day also. In the U12 Men’s Ballad Singing, Pearse Óg Mc Manon secured a trip to the Ulster Fleadh by taking second place – another young maestro at only 8 years old. In the U15 Ladies Ballads Dearbhla Daly, Carran Road, won the title and, with sister Niamh Daly winning the U18 title also, it proved to be a very joyous day for the Daly household. The Men’s U15 Ballads Singing and U15 Amhránaí Fir competitions were won by Tiarnan Conway who having flourished at U12 Level will now be looking to make his mark in this age group also.

Success in the major instrumental competitions is another thing the An Bonnán Buí branch pride themselves on. The feature competition on the day, the U12 Whistle – with 29 entrants – was won by Iarla Mc Manon, last year’s U12 All Ireland Whistle champion. Representation at Ulster will also come from Aoife Smyth of St. Mochua’s in Keady who gave a commanding performance.  The same 1, 2 combination was repeated in the U12 Uilleann Pipes competition with the adjudicator suggesting Iarla has all the technique and ability of an All-Ireland Uillean Pipe winner also. Brother Pearse Óg Mc Mahon also took gold when he won the U12 Button Accordion competition. Singled out by adjudicator Patricia Mc Dermott as a very exciting prospect for the future, he has – according to Mum Tracey – ” …practiced very, very hard and deserves a treat now before the hard work begins for Ulster.” Pearse Óg and Iarla won the U12 Duets competition also and were then joined by cousin Darragh Conway on the banjo and won the U12 Trios title. Darragh experienced great success in his own right when he won both Banjo and Mandolin U12 competitions. He is a strong, confident performer who will continue to feature as he progresses through the upwardly difficult age ladder for competitions.

An Bonnán Buí continued to feature in the solo music competitions at higher age groups with Marcus Conway delivering a flawless performance on his Concertina to claim the U15 Title. Following this, Niamh Daly – a prolific singer – showed her love for the jigs and reels by delighting the adjudicator with a commanding accompaniment performance on guitar and thus sealing silver and a trip to Dromore in Tyrone on July 26th for the Ulster Fleadh.

All of the An Bonnán Buí tutors were in attendance on the day at Portmór and they delighted in the performance given by each and every one of the children. “It’s great to win things, but the purpose of the Fleadh, I feel, is to give children a goal to focus on. When they come here, they see the standard that’s expected in order to progress and it instills a greater sense of purpose for the following year. They will, inevitably, work harder and practice more in order to feature. Our focus has always been on producing quality and we strive against the odds to do that. This year we have seen a bit of a turn around and parents who attend the lessons see the branch as a team or a community group that they can be more hands on with. This is what we wanted from the outset. Thanks for this must go, in no small part, to tutors like Tracey, Deirdre Ogle who did a good deal of the admin work and, of course St. Patrick’s Primary School where our lessons are based.” Such are the musings of Pearse Mc Manon, Singing Coach and Guitar Tutor at the An Bonnán Buí branch. All the signs point towards a very successful future for this branch as it continues to feature strongly at provincial and All Ireland Level. Look out for some great sessions in the coming weeks and months in and around Crossmaglen.

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