South Armagh musicians excel at Fleadh Cheoil

August 24, 2010

By Brónagh Murphy

Dozens of musicians from south Armagh are celebrating All-Ireland success after putting in top class performances in Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann at the weekend. The annual event, which was staged in Cavan this year, features the cream of the crop of talented traditional musicians from across the globe.

11-year-old Cathal Murphy from Camlough is the toast of his fellow musicians in the Ring of Gullion branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in Forkhill after he took first place in the Under-12 Bodhrán competition on Saturday.

The youngest of Eamon and Martina Murphy’s four children, Cathal is continuing the family tradition of exceptional musical talent, following in the footsteps of his older siblings, Niall, Emma and Conor, who are also well-known and talented musicians.

Eldest sibling Niall also enjoyed Fleadh success, taking the runner-up place in the over-18 fiddle.

Cathal is a pupil of renowned musician, Fergal O’Brien, Mullaghbawn, who is understandably delighted at his pupil’s achievement.

Speaking to The Examiner, Fergal said: “This is a fantastic achievement, not only for Cathal himself, but for the whole Ring of Gullion Comhaltas fraternity.  At Fleadh Cheoil, musicians are up against the best in the world and for Cathal to take first place is just phenomenal.  We are absolutely delighted for him.”


On Friday evening the dancers from the Majella McEnteggart School of Irish Dance were awarded third place in the Ladies Four Hand age 12-15 section.  Representing the Ring of Gullion CCÉ, this was a very significant achievement of these young dancers as this is the first year competitive Céilí dancing has been included in Fleadh Cheoil.

Their tutor Majella says she is ‘over the moon’ at her dancers’ success and paid tribute to the hard work and effort they put in to get to this stage.  Alana Flynn, Jane Hearty, Sarah Johnson and Stacey McCann made up the winning team.


Success on a local level continued on Sunday afternoon when the St. Brigid’s Junior Accordian Band from Jonesboro emulated the previous successes of their Senior counterparts and took first place in the Accordian Bands section.  In doing so they created their own bit of history as they are the first band ever to take the Junior title after the Senior Band won three years in a row.

This is the first year the Junior Band has competed in Fleadh Cheoil and Band Secretary, Dee Knox, said everyone associated with the band is delighted at the achievement.

“Our Senior Band has won the Fleadh Cheoil for the last three years and did not compete in this year’s competition, so we are absolutely delighted that our Junior Band is carrying on the success and bringing home the trophies.  The Junior band was only established around ten months ago and the average age of the members is just 13 years old.

“The committee is extremely proud of our young band members and congratulate them on their achievement,” she added.


The junior Grúpa Cheoil from Ring of Gullion CCE also had the honour of performing on the Fleadh Gig Rig on Saturday afternoon.  Some of the country’s best musicians are invited to play on the Gig Rig during the Fleadh weekend and these young musicians gave a wonderful account of themselves.  Their tutor Elaine O’Sullivan said it was a real honour for them to be asked to play and she was delighted how her young musicians performed.


Slieve Gullion Sinn Féin councillor Colman Burns extended his congratulations to the winning musicians in Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann.

“This weekend has seen some of the best musicians from the south Armagh area take part in Fleadh Cheoil.  It is a huge achievement to get to an All-Ireland final and although some didn’t quite make it, I’d like to extend my congratulations to the hugely talented Murphy family from Camlough and to the Jonesboro Junior Band.  They are all a credit to their families and the district,” Councillor Burns said.