Comhaltas Concert Tour of Britain 2009

10 November 2008, 6:11 PM GMT

Comhaltas Concert Tour of Britain 2009

The Annual Comhaltas Tour of Britain Echoes of Érin crossed the water to Liverpool on Friday, February 20th. The Tour featured nine concerts throughout Britain, from Liverpool to London, taking in the North of England, Scotland and Birmingham on the way! The final concert took place in Cardiff on Saturday, 28th February.

A selection of fifteen top class performers in all fields displayed the highest standards and regional styles that have become synonymous with these events down through the years. These same performers had already thrilled audiences throughout the length and breadth of Ireland during the Comhaltas Irish Tour in October 2008.

The 2009 Tour was sponsored by Tourism Ireland and EnjoyTravel

Venues visited by the 2009 tour were as follows:

Date Town Venue
Friday 20th February Liverpool St Michael’s Irish Centre
Saturday 21st February Scotland Airdrie Town Hall
Sunday 22nd February Tyneside Tyneside Irish Centre
Monday 23rd February Bolton Albert Halls
Tuesday 24th February Cambridge Mumford theatre
Wednesday 25th February Birmingham Birmingham Irish Club
Thursday 26th February St Albans The Maltings Arts centre
Friday 27th February London Camden Irish Centre
Saturday 28th February Cardiff University Hospital of Wales Sports and Social Club

Artistes on the Tour included:

Performer County Instrument
Seán Ó Sé Cork Fear a’Tí / Singer
Humphrey Murphy Cork Singer / Flute
Pádraig Sinnot Wexford Uilleann Pipes
Niamh Denmead Dublin Harp
Darren Breslin Fermanagh Accordion
Caitríona Sears Dublin Fiddle
James Duggan Kerry Fiddle
Eoin Ó Suilleabhain Limerick Banjo
Aoife Greene Galway Concertina
Aisling McMahon Clare Concertina/Dancer
Clare McDermott Cavan Dancer
James Mounsey Tipperary Dancer
Tomás Ó Maoldomhnaigh Limerick Tour Manager


Seán Ó Sé – Singer/Fear a’Tí
Fear a’Tí is celebrated Cork singer, Seán Ó Sé. Seán had a long association with Seán Ó Riada in the 1960s, which began with their recording of An Poc ar Buile for Gael-Linn. He featured on many of Ó Riada’s recordings including Ó Riada sa Gaiety and the film music of Rhapsody of a River and Kennedy’s Ireland. You can hear the latter any day you visit the Kennedy Library and Museum at Columbia Point, Boston. Seán has toured widely in Europe and America where he featured on both the 2007 & 2008 Comhaltas Concert Tours. His latest recording The Green Road, a collaboration with The Turloughmore Céilí Band, was launched in concert at the 2008 Fleadh Nua in Ennis which proved to be one of the highlights of the Festival.

Pádraig Sinnott – Uilleann Pipes
Pádraig is a renowned uilleann piper from historic Boolavogue in Co. Wexford. He also plays flute and administers the Comhaltas Archive in the Father Murphy Centre, Boolavogue. Pádraig has participated in many Comhaltas Concert Tours down through the years including Ireland in 2004, Britain in 2005 and North America in 1987 & 2005.

Caitríona Sears - Fiddle
Dublin based Caitríona is a highly talented young fiddle player having two All-Ireland plus two Oireachtas titles to her credit. She studied music at University College Dublin (UCD) and has toured Belgium, Switzerland and Italy. Caitríona has been teaching fiddle for seven years and also tutors Grúpaí Ceoil ensembles.

James Duggan - Fiddle
James, who comes from County Kerry, has been a prizewinner on fiddle at many Fleadhanna events at County, Provincial and All-Ireland level. He has performed on Tours in both France and Spain with the University of Cork (UCC) Traditional Music Society. James has also performed with Siamsa Tíre – Tralee and is Youth Officer with Kerry Comhaltas. He is also a member of UCC Trad Society Committee, Féile Lios Tuathail and Producer of the Seisiún in Listowel for a number of years.

Aisling McMahon – Concertina / Dancer
Aisling, who hails from the hallowed ground of traditional music in East Clare, is both a talented musician and dancer. She is currently studying Irish Music and Dance in UL and featured amongst the prize-winners at this year’s All-Ireland Fleadh in Tullamore in the senior concertina competition. Aisling has performed overseas at Festival Interceltique – Lorient 2007 and also with Brú Ború during their trip to Shanghai in 2008. She comes from a very musical family and her mother, Paula McMahon, is well known as a music teacher and Producer of the 2008 East Clare Seisiún in which Aisling also performed.

Clare McDermott - Dancer
Clare from County Cavan is a highly talented young dancer. She is very versatile and also plays fiddle and tin whistle. She took part in Siansa Gael Linn 2008 and her group became Ulster champions before going on to take third place in the All-Ireland finals of this competition. Clare toured Switzerland in 2008 with Martin Donohoe, one of her musical influences, who also include Pádraig McGovern and P J Flood.

Humphrey Murphy – Flute / Singer
Humphrey comes from County Cork and is a talented musician and singer. A former member of champion Céilí Band, The Allow, he has taken All-Ireland honours in Sean-Nós singing and also in Scór competitions. Humphrey is a TTCT qualified traditional music teacher. He toured in Pearl City, New York during 2008.

Niamh Denmead - Harp
Niamh is a highly accomplished harper who hails from Dublin and comes from a well known family of traditional musicians. A performer at the Brú Ború Heritage Centre in Cashel, Niamh also tours extensively with the group worldwide. She is an All-Ireland Champion and has previously travelled with Comhaltas on their tours of Ireland, Britain and the USA. Niamh is studying for her BA in “Irish Music and Dance” at the University of Limerick. Majoring in music there, she also studies dance under the direction of Orfhlaith Ní Bhriain and Mats Melin.

Aoife Greene – Concertina
Aoife hails from County Galway and plays both concertina and piano. She is an exceptional young musician who has many All-Ireland titles to her credit including this year’s Senior and the 2007 Under 18 Concertina competitions. She also won the Under 18 Piano competition in 2007 and took second place at Senior level in 2008. Aoife toured America with her College Group in 2008.

Eoin O’Sullivan – Banjo
Eoin, from County Limerick, is a talented young banjo player who has won County and Munster Medals on the instrument. He also attained runner-up status in the 2006 All-Ireland Fleadh in Letterkenny and was a member of the Tuar na Fola All Ireland winning Group.

Darren Breslin – Accordion
Darren hails from County Fermanagh and is renowned for his unique style on the accordion. The 2008 All-Ireland Senior Accordion winner at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Tullamore, Darren is just as much at home playing in a street session or one of the many Summer music festivals. He’s a regular performer each year at the Eddie Duffy / Mick Hoy festival in Derrygonnelly.

James Mounsey - Dancer
James Mounsey is an accomplished dancer from Tipperary who has danced extensively with the acclaimed Brú Ború group. He has competed at world level and has also won Munster titles. James is currently a third year student studying for a BA in “Irish Music and Dance” at the University of Limerick. Majoring in dance there, he chose piano as his second performance interest. James is currently studying for his Irish Dance Teachers’ exam, the TCRG with An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha. He has previously danced with the Chieftains and travelled with Comhaltas on both the 2008 Concert Tour of Britain and the the 2008 Concert Tour of North America.

A brief summary of the concert programme is as follows:-

Echoes of Érin 2009 stages a range of traditional Irish music, song and dance that combine to give an insight into the breadth and depth of authentic Irish traditional performance arts and cultural traditions. The musical repertoire in the show is interpreted through the combination of virtuoso solo performances and through the variety of tonality and momentum explored through group performances. This musical repertoire incorporates the full range of Irish traditional music: in addition to reels, jigs and hornpipes the concert programme includes a clan-march, barndance, slip-jigs, slides, polkas, a slow-air and a variety of non-dance rhythms tunes such as A March for ’98 and The Parting. Whereas the show includes widely known classic repertoire such as O’ Rourke’s and The Wild Irishman lesser heard favourites such as The Old Blackbird Hornpipe, Sheila Coyle’s Reel, Gillespies, Peter Street and The Four Courts are also included. To reflect the enrichment of our traditional repertoire by more recent compositions we include tunes composed by Charlie Lennon, Vincent Broderick, Paddy O’ Brien (Nenagh), Tommy Maguire, Tommy Peoples, John & Pip Murphy, Brendan Mc Glinchey and Michael Rooney.

Our three dancers present a variety of rhythms and approaches to performance step-dancing. In addition to reels, which have always been a favourite with audiences, Echoes of Erin 2009 includes a traditional hornpipe, double-jig, slip-jig and two individual set-dances – The Blue-Eyed Rascal and The Jockey at the Fair.

The light-hearted song The Limerick Races is included as are Seán O Sé’s interpretation of Sliabh na mBan and The Old Bóithrín. Seán Ó Sé presents the concert in an informative but humorous style entertaining the audience as both a singer and a raconteur. Seán, accompanied by the musicians, also sings the two songs with which he is synonymous; songs constantly requested by audiences worldwide Bhí Bean Uasal (Carrickfergus) and An Poc Ar Buile.

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