Jonesborough band bids for All-Ireland glory

August 10, 2015

St. Brigid’s Accordion Band in Jonesborough will travel to Sligo this week, bidding to win the Marching Bands title in the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil for a record ninth time.

Siobhan Rice, Drum Major said she is very much looking forward to leading the band in Sligo and added: “I would like to thank the band members and their parents for their commitment, not only for this competition, but over the years.  I would also like to thank the community for their continued support to the band.”

Tommy Martin has been the Drill Instructor with the band for more than 15 years and says he has been very lucky to have been involved through the many highs, and a few lows, over the years.

“Over these years I have worked with a number of committees and a big number of band members both young and old, that have been very easy to work with and made my time as their Instructor very enjoyable,” he said.

“For now, though, it’s down to hard work in an effort to win the Senior All-Ireland title in Sligo.  I would just like to wish the band all the best for the competition and all those travelling a safe journey there and back.”

St. Brigid’s Accordion Band was established in October 1991 by local lady Rita Callan to offer affordable music lessons to children coming from both sides of the border.

Three of those original members still remain in the band today, which boasts around 60 members aged from just four-years-old and coming from south Armagh, south Down and north Louth.

Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is the biggest event in the band’s calendar, demanding the utmost preparation and, over the years, members have been rewarded with a string of successes.

In 2005 the band took the Senior Fleadh title for the first time, having won the Junior title three years earlier.

Further success quickly followed and the band made history when they won the coveted Senior crown three years in a row in 2007, 2008, 2009.

The following year the Junior band won County, Provinical and All-Ireland Fleadh titles and in 2012, they created another historical moment when they won both the Junior and Senior All-Ireland titles.

They were also crowned All Ireland champions in Derry in 2013 when the event came north of the border for the first time.

Apart from the prestigious Fleadh Cheoil competition, the band competes annually in the Ulster Marching Bands Association.  This is held in towns across Northern Ireland and in 2011 both the Junior and Senior bands won the UMBA All-Ireland titles.

This weekend dozens of parents and supporters will travel to Sligo with the St. Brigid’s Band where it is hope they will replicate these previous successes at Fleadh Cheoil and return to Jonesborough triumphant with the Gerry Whelan Memorial trophy.