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One of the other missions undertaken by Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann over the years is to organize concert tours around Ireland, Britain, North America and other countries at the invitation of the Irish government as part of a cultural visit.

The tours were a great opportunity to showcase some of the All-Ireland champions after winning fleadh competitions, and also a mentoring experience for younger musicians to travel and perform with more senior musicians.

The North American tours began over 40 years ago under the coordination of CCE’s founder in North America, Bill McEvoy from Laois (still in great form at age 90), who did his work by telephone or conversations without the aid of email, Internet or even fax machines in those early days.

Some of the finest traditional musicians and dancers in Ireland graced stages over two or three week tours before the Chieftains ever established a beachhead over here for their annual visits.  The impact was dramatic indeed, and it led to a large network of branches (or clubs) where the native Irish settled in Canada and the U.S. still in existence today with almost 50 branches affiliated with the worldwide movement.

Beginning next week the 2013 Echoes of Erin concert tour arrives in the U.S. for a nine-stop sojourn in the Northeast and the Midwest, and the 13 artists are the very same troupe who successfully toured Ireland and Britain in the past year, a Comhaltas first.

Led by singer Alice Fitzgerald from Waterford who has made two trips in previous years, she is joined by the veteran All-Ireland mouth organ champion Noel Battle (Westmeath), Shane Keating on uilleann pipes from Cork, Emer Toale on harp and piano (Dublin), Lorraine McMahon on fiddle (Louth), Roisin Broderick on Concertina (Galway), Joseph Keane on button accordion (Laois), Elaine Reilly on banjo (Longford), Claire Heffernan on flute (Limerick).  The dancers are Aisling Vaughan (Cork), Christine Mulcahy (Limerick), Tomas O Se (Kerry) and Sean Hanafin (Kerry).  The tour is managed by Longford drummer Martin Murphy.

Their itinerary brings them to the Mineola Irish American Center on Tuesday, October 8 at 7:30 p.m. which is the traditional start to their U.S. tour as long as I can remember thanks to McEvoy, the late Hughie Smith and for many years Pat and Patsy Kearney (phone 631-698-3305).

On Thursday, October 10 at 7:30 p.m. they move to the Jersey Shore area with a concert at Lincroft’s Christian Brothers Academy on Newman Springs Road (732-915-2191 or visit

On Friday night, October 11 at 8 p.m. they perform at the Edgerton Center on the campus of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut (203-371-7908 or

More stops are at www. /blog.