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Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann host New Jersey music festival

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It is coming around to fleadh time in the greater New York metropolitan area when the Mid-Atlantic Regional Board of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann hosts one of the qualifying fleadhanna in North America to winnow down competitors for Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann (www.fleadhcheoil.ie) being held once again in Cavan Town. 

Hundreds of competitors will make their way to the Parsippany Hilton in New Jersey over the weekend of May 18-20 to try and get one of those first or second slots that will allow them to challenge the best in Ireland and maybe win All-Ireland bragging rights and fame.

Last year the Mid-Atlantic region enhanced the setting for the New York fleadh by moving it to the hotel in northern New Jersey where it has hosted four very successful conventions.

It also added a very popular annual event when it incorporated the annual induction ceremony of the regional Hall of Fame into the Saturday evening banquet as the centerpiece of the Saturday night entertainment.

The candidates for this year are uilleann piper Jerry O’Sullivan from Yonkers, one of the finest pipers that the U.S. has ever produced whose recorded work along with his performances and teaching acumen have been recognized on both sides of the Atlantic.  

Jesse Winch, a native New Yorker and a long-time resident of Maryland will also be acknowledged for a lifetime of achievement in the greater Washington, D.C. area for promoting Irish music through his work with a seminal trad band called Celtic Thunder (with his brother Terry) and in the festival scene and as a past president of the O’Neill-Malcom branch based in the Capitol District. 

Also being inducted is the late Johnny Cronin from Killarney, who passed away in Ireland back in 2008 who, when he was living in New York, was one of the premier button accordion players in town very much in demand for ceilithe in the former Cork lounge and many music sessions. 

Friends and supporters of those three outstanding musicians are encouraged to come along to the gala banquet from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.  Tickets are $60 (Table of 10 is available for $600) with reduced admission and special menu for children. This also includes admission to the ceili afterwards.

There will be two weekend ceilithe featuring the All-Ireland senior champions, the Dartry Ceili Band from Sligo as the entertainment for the Friday night ceili on their own (8-11:30 p.m.).

They will join forces with the Hall of Fame all-stars in sharing dance music duty for the post-banquet ceili on Saturday night  10 p.m. to 1 a.m.

On Saturday and Sunday during the day starting at 10 a.m. the music competitions for solo, duet, trios, grupai cheoils, and ceili band competitions will be open to the general public for a nominal admission fee to help support the young generation of musicians who are working hard to keep the tradition alive.  A Mass by Monsignor Charles Coen will be celebrated Sunday morning at the Parsippany Hilton.

For more information visit www.cce-ma.com or call the fleadh secretary Terry Rafferty at 201-722-0059 or Tom Vesey at 201-973-8863.

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