Traditional Irish music fleadh thrives in Pearl River
Since the fleadh committee is comprised mostly of teachers and musicians and some very dedicated CCE officials who work very hard every year, the emphasis is on creating the right balance of competition and adjudication to not only ensure a high standard, but an atmosphere where the music can thrive and continue to be passed on to future generations.
The flow and execution of this year’s New York Fleadh in Pearl River seemed to be as good as it could be, starting with the ceili on Friday night hosted by the Pearl River Ceili Group in West Nyack.
Over 14 sets danced to the music of four adjudicators over from Ireland, Corkmen Conal O’Grada (on flute) and Ciaran Coughlan (on keyboards), Paudie O’Connor (on box from Killarney) and Diarmuid O’Brien from Glin, Co. Limerick, a relation of the late Martin Mulvhill.
The dancers were well pleased and entertained by the music kept at a very comfortable pace that we often don’t see with some of the Irish ceili bands these days.
During the day Saturday solo competitions were the order of the day, with all the groups (duets, trios, grupai cheoil and ceili bands) competing on the Sunday. With over 400 entries across the competitions, interest seemed to be higher than ever and indicative of the quality of teaching available these days and the dedication of students of all ages.
In between there was a large session gathering at the Holiday Inn in Orangeburg where a number of out of town guests joined in the tunes, with the locals led by Mike Rafferty and Willie Kelly. Providing much needed relaxation and socialization between the busy days of competition is a very necessary thing.
The four lads over from Ireland (O’Grada, Coughlan, O’Connor and O’Brien) and one lady (Maire Walsh) enhanced a distinguished stateside panel of adjudicators who have a very vital role in elevating standards and preparing prospective competitors for stiffer challenges in Ireland or as they further their musical education.
The comments were generally very helpful and supportive and knowledgeable, which justifies the extra expenditure especially when you consider importing Irish judges.
However, when you hear music like I hear in concert in Fairfield from the four boyos and again at the Friday night ceili, that is a bonus all together for a fleadh committee that wants to take some risks with the objective of making for a better competition and event.
Coincidentally, on Saturday evening, there was a sod-turning at the Rockland GAA field less than a mile away from the fleadh attended by Consul General Niall Burgess, and appropriately enough Girsa who provided entertainment as Pearl River representatives. Plans are well underway for expansion of their facilities with support from Ireland for their goals (www.rocklandgaa.com).
Given the level of activity in Rockland County, no wonder many regard it as the 33rds County of Ireland. The future looks very bright indeed.
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