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Keady Comhaltas celebrates 40 years with special event in town

Keady Comhaltas
Emer Mallon on Harp; Dancers - Annalise Whyte, Sarah McCooey & Aine Whyte; Chris Lennon on Flute

Keady Comhaltas will be celebrating forty years with a special event in the town this weekend.

The Comhaltas has been promoting Irish music, language, dance and culture across the district since 1980.

And this weekend, Lord Mayor Mealla Campbell, accompanied by All Ireland Comhaltas Champions – with current and former members of Keady Comhaltas – will be celebrating and launching the branch into the next forty years at a special event starting at 4pm on Sunday 16th February in the Tommy Makem Arts Centre in Keady. 

During the bleak mid-winter of 1976, Keady Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (then St Mochua’s) was formed by a group of notable musicians such as Justin McElvanna, Robert McGleenan, and Frankie Keating; with Billy McGuinness as Chair, Liam McGuinness as Secretary and Tony McDonnell as Treasurer.

Forty years ago this May, Keady hosted its first ever Armagh county Fleadh, and so our branch is celebrating and very much looking forward to the next forty years to help inspire our local community and to promote a new generation of musicians, singers and dancers. 

Robert McGleenan on fiddle and Joe Trainor on the accordion

Robert McGleenan on fiddle and Joe Trainor on the accordion

Comhaltas is dedicated to the promotion of Irish culture, its music, song, dance and language.

The branch runs frequent events over the year such as the very popular weekly music classes, held in St Francis of Assisi PS Keady on Friday evenings.

As a branch they are extremely proud of the rapidly growing number of All Ireland Champions at all junior and senior levels.

The Maid of the Mill weekend, sponsored by the Armagh County Board sees St Patrick’s High School taken over for the day to provide the space for multiple workshops and tuition from Ireland’s leading traditional musicians and the Seisiún Trail where all musicians both young and old experience the community of musicians and develop their tune banks. 

To mark this special occasion on Sunday, February 16 they are organising the “Forty Years of  Keady CCE”.

Kicking off at 4pm in the TMAC Centre, reaching out to all families and young people from across the district with a series of Lightning Talks from Industry professionals who all came up through the Comhaltas ranks.

This is aimed at raising the awareness about the breadth and depth of job opportunities available through music. It’s also intended to help the youth understand how music can help them flourish in ways that’s vitally important to potential employers.      

There will be multiple short inspiring presentations from leading professionals such as a Radio Ulster radio presenter, an award winning composer, one of Ireland’s leading audio engineers, a secondary school teacher, a famous local song writer, an instrument restorer and members of the internationally recognised folk band “Connla”. So whatever your passion is, come to hear some invaluable insights that can help you! 

Directly after, the event will be moving venue to the Caledonian Inn, for the ’Hooley in the Cally’.

An organised session starting at 5.30pm with key trad musicians leading sessions in the two lower bars, joined by all the Comhaltas members and interspersed with Irish dancing so lots of music, dancing and craic. 

All are welcome to help us celebrate and join the Comhaltas ranks!

Lightning Talks presenters include:

Radio Presenter Marty Cullen, BBC Radio Ulster
Composer Áine Mallon, Leading Irish Composer
Instrument Restorer Justin Toner, All Ireland Fiddle Champion
Song Writer Sean Mone, Famous Local Song Writer
Audio Engineer Barry McCusker, Leading Live Audio Engineer
Music Teacher Emer Mallon, Teacher, & Performer in the Internationally recognised band Connla
Professional Musician Conor Mallon, All Ireland Senior Uilleann Pipe Champion & Performer in Connla

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