Huge cheque to Children’s Kidney Charity marks Comhaltas 60 years

May 15, 2012

The Charlemont Arms Hotel Armagh was the venue on Friday night for a  wonderful celebration of sixty years of the traditional Irish music organisation, Comhaltas. The evening was the final event in a six month fundraising effort. The county board of Armagh Comhaltas Ceoltóírí Eireann (CCE) decided by way of celebrating sixty years of the organisation that they would use The Children’s Kidney Fund NI, as their receiving charity.

This charity was chosen as a young member of Comhaltas, had a kidney transplant in 2010.  Miceál Mullen from the Ring of Gullion CCE received a kidney from his brother in November of that year. When he and his family approached the County Board about possibly raising some money for the above charity there was no hesitation from the Board.  Each branch within County Armagh held a local event – the branches involved were Ring of Gullion, Forkhill, St. Mochuas Keady, Tullysarren, Portmor, Clanbrassil, and Crossmaglen. A further event was held in the Canal Court Newry this was organised by Eamon and Martina Murphy and family, Camlough, and Eddie and Marian Mullen and family, Killean.

The invited audience at the presentation night were made up of members of the Comhaltas branches in Armagh along with the Chairman of the Ulster Council of Comhaltas, Eamon Graham. The evening was an opportunity to thank organ donors who have changed the lives of their recipients; many families of children who have received transplants recently were also in the audience along with medical and nursing staff from the Royal Belfast Hospital fr Sick Children (RBHSC).

The Deputy Mayors of both Armagh City Council and Newry and Mourne Councils took time to attend. The audience were kept in fine tune with Henry McDonald as compére .The evening opened with young trad band Cúig of which transplantee Miceál Mullen is a part, along with Eoin and Cathal Murphy and Rónán and Ruairí Stewart from Dungannon – they have played at the fundraising events  over this last six months.  Playing alongside them on the night was the singer Joanna Boyle from Co.Monaghan who sings with band Síoda and prestigious fiddle player Niall Murphy from Reel It In.  There were also performances from Michael Quinn, Seamus McElvanna, Emma Murphy, Mark Mohan, Brid Harper, and P.J. McDonnell.

The cheque for £12,641.26 was presented by Eddie Mullen on behalf of the Armagh County Board to Professor Maurice Savage, representing RBHSC and The Children’s Kidney Fund  NI. This was followed by a few words from Professor Savage who spoke of the importance of charity funds  to continue the work of kidney research and to support families of children with renal disease.  Keith Smith shared his story from a parent’s point of view of the benefits of the charity.

Hugh McElvanna, Chairman of the Armagh CCE, praised the successful efforts of all branches in raising this amount.  Hugh said, “Raising this large amount of money for this deserving charity was a very worthwhile way of marking the 60th anniversary of Comhaltas”.  Eamon Graham, Chair of Ulster Council of Comhaltas added his words of appreciation, saying, “We can see from the benefits of the charity for some of our own members how important this charity is and we are proud to have provided such significant support to the charity as part of our anniversary celebrations”.

Marion Mullen closed the formal part of the evening with words of sincere thanks to the Charity and to Comhaltas.  “Comhaltas has always offered us normality, friendship and support through some difficult times.  She wished Comhaltas many more years of success.”  Marion also thanked the Charlemont Arms Hotel on behalf of the County Board for their support of this event and throughout the year.

The evening ended with a buffet and music carried on until the wee hours of the morning. A great night was had by all in attendance.