From The Hobby Paul Keating
- New Jersey Fleadh weekend a huge success
- Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann Congress celebrates growth - with 415 branches in 15 countries
- Recalling the great Irish musician Felix Dolan - VIDEO
- The Yanks are coming - debut album of New York City favorite building a buzz
- New York Irish Center hosts great night - Oliver O’Connell, Mickey Dunne live in Queens
ON TG4, Ireland’s Irish language television station, the annual Gradam Cheoil Awards will be shown on Easter Sunday at 9:30 p.m. Irish time (4:30 p.m. EST). Taped April 2 at a live presentation concert at the Wexford Opera House, the prestigious awards were given out to six standout contributors in various categories in the world of Irish traditional music.
The top award of Musician of the Year goes to the Clare concertina maestro Noel Hill, the first concertina player to be so recognized in this category and richly deserved. The honor comes just a couple of years after a savage and brutal attack in Connemara where he makes his home that left him severely injured and in need of major surgery and therapy.
The Young Musician of the Year is piper Padraic Keane, the son of piper Tommy Keane and Jacqueline McCarthy with trad music running through his veins. A Lifetime Achievement Award went to Ben Lennon, the Leitrim fiddler and brother of Charlie Lennon and father of Maurice Lennon. The Singer of the Year was Muireann nic Amhlaoibh, who was over eight months pregnant at the time the award was bestowed in Wexford but is now a new mother.
AN early reminder that the last Blarney Star concert of the season will be on Friday, May 6 and feature three stalwarts of the Baltimore scene. In Billy McComiskey, the godfather of the Baltimore Irish traditional music scene for almost three decades since the Brooklyn native settled there with his Baltimore wife Annie, you have one of America’s greatest box players who won the Senior All-Ireland accordion championship almost 25 years ago.
Donna Long, originally from California, has been a Marylander for a number of years who rose to prominence in the Irish trad scene through recordings with Brendan Mulvihill and also a long stint as the pianist with Cherish the Ladies. Flute player Laura Byrne, another transplant from Vermont, has recorded two solo albums and, like the other two, she is part of a solid teaching brigade in the Baltimore region for a number of years.
This trio delivers Irish music as good as it gets, and has helped make the “Ballmore” trad scene a welcome stop for tradheads. The Blarney Star concerts take place at Glucksman Ireland House at NYU and start at 9 p.m. Visit www.blarneystar.com . . .
When he was chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Region he turned over the reigns of running the New York Fleadh to the next generation. It was their children who would be benefitting directly from keeping the competitions going, he reasoned, and he also recruited the nascent crop of teachers centered in Pearl River and elsewhere in New York City.
The senior guard stepped aside and let the young Turks provide the much needed energy and new thinking to allow it to grow substantially, encouraged by Vesey’s mantra of “looky-here, whatever ye want to do.”
They were enjoying one more night of Irish music from a random group of about 10 musicians and singers from as far west as California and east in counties Clare and Westmeath who gathered around in horseshoe arrangement. This never say die contingent were emblematic of the spirit that infused the hotel since last Thursday night, filling it with spontaneity and bonhomie that marked a great gathering of Gaels at a Comhaltas weekend.
With its fabulous River Walk attraction and the historic Alamo, San Antonio is a popular tourist destination year round, and the warm weather a special treat for those up north who experienced a longer winter than anyone cared for. When the year-old branch now officially named for Father Sean Egan, the adventurous Holy Ghost father who served as an U.S. Air Force chaplain in San Antonio, stepped up bravely last April to host the largest CCE event in North America, no one knew what to expect.
Sandy, as she was known, was the wife of one of Ireland’s finest fiddle players, the Killaloe, Co. Clare native Seamus Connolly. She was an invaluable partner to him and his work, establishing and administering the Gaelic Roots program of Irish music and dance at Boston College.
In her professional life, the California native was a high-ranking official in the U.S. National Park Service, rising to the rank of northeast deputy regional director after an extended period as the superintendent of the Lowell National Historic Park. She, along with Joe Wilson of the NCTA, hosted the National Folk Festival there, where the event still happens annually after 25 years thanks to the work she put in during her tenure.