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
Two full days of entertainment including popular acts like the Whole Shabang, Black 47, the Prodigals, Celtic Cross, Shilelagh Law, Jameson’s Revenge, Andy Cooney and Kitty Kelly will appear. Visit www.irishvillageusa.com or call 518-634-2286 for more info.
And stop by and take a look at the Blackthorne Resort’s brand-new restaurant/bar and hotel complex risen from the ashes which had its official ribbon-cutting last Saturday, marking its phoenix-like reappearance in just four months time. Hats off to the Handel Family and good luck with the upcoming season.
Considering the historic site went back to the 13th century and one of the instruments was the national symbol of Ireland, the harp, it was notable for that alone.
But even more memorable was the superb dual playing of harpist Laoise Kelly and fiddler Michelle O’Brien on the day which touched me as much if not more than other of the other concerts on the weekend as it was all the more haunting in the main hall of the restored castle.
The years are flying by when I realized recently that it was over three decades ago that I first became aware of a young teenager who was playing in her father’s band for one of the Clare Society dances. She was getting a firm grounding in playing Irish dance music for a crowd that knew how to dance sets with the right tempo alongside her old man who had the tradition ingrained from his own East Galway musical influences.
Her musical influences were her dad’s musical friends also, a veritable who’s who of trad music around the greater New York area. She was one of a number of young boys and girls born to the breed of Irish musicians in a first generation who took up the music and made their parents proud and audiences around the U.S. and the world even happier.
We are talking about Joanie Madden of Yonkers (formerly the Bronx and Yorktown Heights) who is celebrating another birthday this week as she gracefully slides into middle age with an extraordinary past few weeks adding to the occasion recently.
One could spend a lot of time discussing finances and bottom lines for Comhaltas, but the greatest asset it could ever tout is the quality of the people who generously volunteer with great passion, vision and hard work.
Foremost among them in North America and New York especially was John “Jack” Whelan, originally from Ballyvaskin, outside of Miltown Malbay in Clare.
Like many Irish immigrants who came to America, he brought a fierce love and pride for his native land and the rich cultural heritage that nurtured him as the youngest of eight in the Whelan family.
Taking a page out of the convening of organizational delegates in the U.S. and Canada in a suitable hotel since the mid-1980s that allowed a valuable social and cultural component to the yearly annual business meetings, so too did the annual Congress of CCE representing 415 branches in 15 countries.
Taking the annual confab down the road to Tullamore, the site of three recent and very successful Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann festivals (2007-2009) rather than the smaller Head Office Culturlann in Monkstown, Dublin was an inspired choice that added to the festivities and a more relaxed approach to trumpeting its accomplishments over six decades.