Local balladeers triumph at All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil
Following on from the success at the Ulster Fleadh in Bangor in July, two members of local Comhaltas branch CCE An Bonnán Buí – Pearse Óg Mc Mahon and Niamh Daly – have wowed the world of traditional music and song by taking the All-Ireland title in their respective competitions at last weekend’s Fleadh Cheoil in Ennis, Co. Clare.
Competing in the U12 Ballad Singing on Saturday afternoon, Pearse Óg was the final contestant to take to the stage and, indeed, the best wine was kept until the last, according to adjudicator John Tunney, son of Ulster singing legend Paddy Tunney. Awarding first place to Pearse Óg for his flawless renditions of ‘The Fisher’s Cot’ and the comical ‘The Second Hand Trousers I Bought in Belcoo’, Tunney remarked that he was in awe of the youngster’s “natural singing style, his flow and the ease with which he was able to convey both songs”.
Indeed, 11-year-old Pearse Óg’s endeavours did not go unnoticed and he received a call from TG4’s Fleadh TV programme to appear with TV and radio celebrity Hector O’hEochagáin on Sunday evening’s live show. In the wake of a resounding set by Donegal super group, Clannad, Pearse Óg kept the audience enthralled with his own encapsulating performance.
And demonstrating that he is no ‘one trick pony’, it was a winning weekend all round for Pearse Óg as he took third place in the U12 Button Accordion competition, winning the praise of his tutor Barry Leonard who remarked that he is “playing well beyond his years and is a truly exciting prospect”.
Such an accomplishment would be the envy of many Comhaltas branches across the country, but more success was to follow for An Bonnán Buí. On Sunday, singer Niamh Daly from Crossmaglen competed in the Senior Ladies Ballad Singing competition. Once again, adjudicator John Tunney was in no doubt of his winner and, to Niamh’s delight and that of her parents PJ and Paula and family, he awarded her the All Ireland title.
Niamh’s renditions of ‘Brockagh Brae’ and ‘Sarah Jane’ were flawless and there little doubt amongst those present that the top prize was justly awarded and truly deserved. Niamh’s efforts also crossed the radar of RTE who invited her to record and sing for their Fleadh 2017 programme, which is to be broadcast in the coming months.
Pearse McMahon tutors both Niamh and Pearse Óg (his son), and he was magnanimous in his praise of them both.
Recalling that Niamh first attended his singing classes at the age of seven, he said, “She fast became, and still is, one of the finest female singers I have and, no doubt, ever will hear. This [award] is long deserved, in fact, they should be giving it to her twice, three times over!”
Turning his attention to his talented young son, Pearse added: “As for my own cub – a rapscallion, but a little gent at the heart of it all,” he joked.
“He too has worked tirelessly this year fixing and improving. I wish I could sing with half his confidence!”
Offering his congratulations, he predicted “a great future” for both his protégées.
New term registration
So it is, as the excitement of the All Ireland Fleadh wanes for 2017, preparations are already underway at CCE An Bonnán Buí for next year’s event which will be held in Drogheda.
Branch Musical Director, Sinead Conway, says the U12 Ghrúpa Cheoil and U12 Ceili Band will “definitely be amongst our priorities” for Fleadh Cheoil 2018.
And she advised parents of current students that they will be notified this week regarding registration. Any budding musicians wishing to join CCE An Bonnán Buí can do so, the registration night to be held St. Patrick’s Primary School in the coming weeks or make contact via Facebook or email, email@example.com.