Comhaltas expands to South America

20 June 2007, 1:06 PM GMT

Comhaltas expands to South America

– Last night a new branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann was established. The branch is known as The River Plate Branch and is unique insofar as it is the first branch registered in South America.

The inaugral meeting took place in Ceolaras Coleman in Gurteen, Co. Sligo under the chairmanship of Seamus McCormack, Leas Uachtaran of Comhaltas and chairman of Connaught Council, when 4 dancers and 26 musicians from Buenos Aires, Argentina elected their committee. Also in attendance were Mr. gerry Lundy, Leas Cathaoirleach, of Sligo Co. Council and Martin Enright, Cathaoirleach Coiste Coundae Shligigh

The event was the culmination of negotiations between the Argentinian group and Vince Hearns the Meitheal Reachtaire for Mayo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Sligo and Fermanagh. Earlier in the day The Reachtaire arranged a civic reception by the newly elected Mayor of Sligo, Jonathan Mc Goldrick and afterwards the group entertained shoppers with an impromptu session in O Connell Street, Sligo.

The thirty visitors some of whom are descendents of Irish emigrants entertained a capacity audience in the theatre at Ceolaras Coleman in Gurteen after their inaugral meeting and amazed those present at the high standard of playing Irish traditional music , song and dance.

Later, they adjourned to the Roisín Dubh where they were joined with such local stalwards as Sheila O Dowd, Peter Horan, Philip Doddy, Loretta Taheny (who was visiting from Canada), John and Maria McHugh from Foxford, Co. Mayo all in all there were 52 musicians at that session.

Fernando Marcos, a member of the group is one of only two qualified teachers of Irish traditional dancing in the South American continent was complimented by the renowned Ted McGowan saying that it was the best performance that he had seen since Michael Flately (a neighbours son) tapped the hallowed tiled floor of the the famous establishment. Fernando said “ I like to tango, but Irish music is everything to me. I love dancing hornpipes and reels and I love the Irish music.” Referring to the establishment of the new branch he said “ It is quite unbelievable to me that we live so far away but are being linked in this way today. It makes us feel so welcome, warm and loved.”

Also in the group was Augustin Brown (29) a seventh generation descendent of Admiral William Brown who was born in Foxford, Co. Mayo, founder of the Argentinian navy and revered throughout Argentina. He told us that there were no less than 1,100 streets, six towns, 320 schools, 441 plazzas and 6 football teams called after his illustrious Irish ancestor. He described this his second visit to Ireland as being very significant and that he felt he had come home.

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