Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Dearbhla scoops first All-Ireland title for Crossmaglen branch of CCÉ

Local branches of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann enjoyed excellent success at last week’s All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil, held in Sligo.

Representing An Bonnán Buí CCÉ, Crossmaglen, 15-year-old Dearbhla Daly blew away the competition and took the All-Ireland title in 12-15 Ladies English Ballads with her beautiful renditions of ‘John Riley’ and ‘The Cruel Lowland Maid’.

The first All-Ireland title to come to the local branch of CCE, Dearbhla’s achievement has naturally been singled out for high praise.  Her singing coach Pearse McMahon said the win was just reward for the hard work and endeavour she has put in in preparation for the competition.

“Dearbhla worked unbelievably hard in the last couple of weeks leading up the Fleadh and is a credit to her parents Paula and PJ who I know have put massive time and effort into all their girls – Dearbhla, Colleen, Niamh and Shona – for a long number of years now,” Pearse said.

“There is so much more to traditional ballad singing than some people might think. Breathing, pitch, phrasing, ornamentation, the ability to convey a story with feeling and a sense of place all filtered through a melody, which requires consistency throughout. Adjudicators have unbelievably high standards to meet at All-Ireland level. It can be quite gruelling sometimes. With this in mind, this is a massive, massive achievement, for Dearbhla and for our branch and community. That we can now say we have All Ireland champion singers and musicians living in our town, should give us all a sense of great pride,” he added.

Dearbhla’s mother, Paula, said the family is absolutely delighted at her success.

“When they called out Dearbhla’s name in first place we all gasped, then the realisation had us jumping about the place. This is great for Dearbhla, but it’s great for the parish too. The importance of having music lessons here in the community cannot be understated. Dearbhla’s win is a testament to that. Music is a great outlet for children. The benefits of music are substantial and I find the learning of traditional songs and ballads has really helped the girls improve their concentration and mental abilities and it has given them great confidence,” she said.

There was further success for An Bonnán Buí CCÉ when Darragh Conway took third place in both the Banjo and the Mandolin U12 competitions.

Darragh’s cool hand performances in competitions the adjudicators described as being of “…a ridiculously high standard – not unlike an U-18 competition…” earned him a place on the podium and has given him great confidence as he enters the U-15 category next year.

His tutor George McAdam – a former pupil of An Bonnán Buí’s current banjo/mandolin/ whistle & fiddle tutor Tracey Conway – was absolutely delighted with Darragh’s achievement and said he is “proud to be a part of Darragh’s musical journey” and predicts a very bright future for this young and extremely talented player.

George himself was the undisputed winner of both senior Banjo and Mandolin competitions and all the members and tutors at An Bonnán Buí congratulate him wholeheartedly on his wonderful achievement.

A notable mention must also be given to other young members of An Bonnán Buí who competed.  Niamh Daly and Tiarnan Conway sang flawlessly in U18 and U15 categories and accordion maestro Pearse Óg Mc Mahon – at only nine years of age – was outstanding in his U12 competition.

An Bonnán Buí tutor Pearse McMahon also extended sincere congratulations to all sister branches of CCE on their successes at this year’s All Ireland, including Saran Mulligan, Dun Dealgan for his achievement in the U18 Concertina.

Fellow tutor Aoibhin Conway said now is a very exciting time for music in the locality: “While we do not set out to win medals at all costs, having a goal to focus on is a great way to enjoy learning and still get the job done.  I’m looking forward to the classes starting back again in September. We have some really good musicians here already and some very promising young talent who are coming on in leaps and bounds,” she said.

Registration for music lessons with An Bonnán Buí CCE will take place on Tuesday next 8th September at 6pm in St. Patrick’s Primary School, Crossmaglen.

A full and creative programme is planned for the autumn/winter months ahead and anyone wishing to register their child for classes at CCE An Bonnán Buí should do so at their earliest convenience as places will be limited. For more information go to the Branch’s Facebook page or contact Pearse on 086-3939700.

Ring of Gullion

The other local based branch of CCE – Ring of Gullion – was equally as successful in competitions with Pearse Larkin taking the All Ireland title in the U12 Singing in Irish category and third place in the U12 Singing in English.  Cathal Murphy was also crowned All-Ireland champion in the Under 18 Miscellaneous category, while Breandán O’Sullivan took second place in Under 12 Mouth Whistling and Alana Flynn taking third place in U18 Bodhrán.

Other notable performances representing Ring of Gullion CCE were Niamh Ridley in the Newly Composed dance tunes, Deirbhile Larkin in Comhra 13-15, Shea Larkin in Comhra under 9 and the Under 12 Mixed Ceili team from Majella McEnteggart’s School of Dance.

Ring of Gullion CCE tutor Elaine O’Sullivan paid tribute to the winners and all those representing the branch who gave a fantastic account of themselves in what were extremely competitive categories.

“Ring of Gullion CCE and the Traditional Arts Partnership are very proud of all of our members who performed with such distinction at the Fleadh.  We are delighted at this year’s success and look forward to continuing delivering top class music tuition to young musicians from the area,” she said.

Meanwhile, St. Brigid’s Band in Jonesborough capped a very successful Fleadh on a local level when they scooped the All-Ireland title in the Senior Accordion Marching Band category on Sunday last.

Sinn Fein Councillor Mickey Larkin extended his congratulations to the band and its mentors: “There is a huge sense of pride in the area at the achievements of the band. The dedication and commitment of the band members with the support of their families has ensured a record ninth title at the Fleadh.  Many hours of practice at Jonesborough have again reaped a just reward for these enthusiastic marching musicians,” he said.