Traditional Irish music fleadh thrives in Pearl River
One of the most exciting elements of the annual Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann (All-Ireland Music Festival) is the late Sunday night unveiling of that year’s senior ceili band champions who are whisked from the competition hall to the gig rig in the public square of the fleadh town.
With all the tension of the competition behind, the music that flows from them has an even more joyous quality as they accept the acclaim of those assembled around them as the fleadh weekend draws to a close and they begin their reign as All-Ireland champions.
While the New York Fleadh held in Pearl River last weekend wouldn’t approximate the level of drama or attendance of the All-Ireland, there was a parallel revelry as the 2009 senior champions, the River Rogues, left the competition hall to perform nearby at Christy’s Pub full of exuberance and satisfaction over the achievements that not only reflected well of them but of the entire Pearl River community.
This Sunday night residency in Christy’s Pub by the band Girsa, a contingent of eight to 10 young ladies who have been having a marvelous spring since launching a new CD in March, was a very special occasion.
Placed before them as they entertained the crowd with their mixture of jigs, reels and songs was the senior trophy garnered just moments before they were to be on stage at the gig.
Girsa formed the bulk of the River Rogues Ceili Band (aided and abetted by two very lucky and talented young men, Dylan Foley and Declan Crowley).
As parents, family and friends and teachers all made their way in from the fleadh down at the nearby Middle School in Pearl River, it capped a terrific weekend for this epicenter of traditional Irish music in America.
Since Girsa (www.girsamusic.com) represents the vanguard of the younger generation of talented musicians to arise in the Pearl River revival of Irish music in New York, their first place finish in a sensational showing by five senior ceili bands (the other four had age but not necessarily experience on their side) was unanimous from the three Irish-born judges who deliberated the outcome.
Coming in a close second was the Old Bay Ceili Band (who went on to compete in Ireland last year) and the St. Cecelia’s Ceili Band from New York on their heels in third.
Joined by two ceili bands from Boston under the direction of Oisin McAuley and Sean Clohessey for the Boston CCE Irish Music School, they all gave marvelous entertainment as the fleadh drew to a successful close.
Since moving the Mid-Atlantic Fleadh to Pearl River over five years ago, it has become as vital and dynamic as the Irish music scene there that has blossomed in the past decade as it became known as THE place for Irish music to prosper.
As one of the qualifying fleadhanna in North America, it plays an important role in selecting competitors who are encouraged to compete in Ireland late in August at Fleadh Cheoil na HEireann (in Tullamore once again over the week of August 16-23 with details at www.fleadh2009.com).
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