Comhaltas Concert Tour of Britain 2008

17 February 2008, 9:02 PM GMT

Comhaltas Concert Tour of Britain 2008

The Annual Comhaltas Tour of Britain Echoes of Érin took to the road on Saturday, February 23rd. The Tour featured seven concerts throughout the four corners of Britain, from Cardiff to London, taking in the North of England, Glasgow and Birmingham on the way!

A selection of twenty top class performers in all fields were assembled to display 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 2007.

The 2008 Tour was sponsored by Tourism Ireland and EnjoyTravel

Venues visited during the 2008 tour were as follows:

Date Town Venue
Saturday 23rd February Cardiff University Hospital of Wales Sports and Social Club
Sunday 24th February London Haringey Irish Centre
Tuesday 26th February Birmingham Birmingham Irish Club
Wednesday 27th February Liverpool St Michael’s Irish Centre
Thursday 28th February Bradford St Georges Hall
Friday 29th February Glasgow Woodside Halls
Saturday 1st February Manchester Irish World Heritage Centre

Artistes on the Tour included:

Performer County Instrument
Eimear Arkins Clare Singer
Joe Arkins Clare Singer
Bruce Scott Liverpool Singer
Eibhlín Ní hEalaithe Limerick Fiddle
Cathy Potter Armagh Harp
Peter Staunton Dublin Accordion
John Carroll Limerick Accordion
Ernestine Healy Mayo Concertina
Seán Walsh Monaghan Flute
Jimmy Morrison Cork Uilleann Pipes
Aonghus Buggy Laois Banjo
Emmet McMorrow Leitrim Dancer
Zelda O’Brien Dublin Dancer
James Mounsey Tipperary Dancer
Elizabeth Demaree Washington DC Dancer
Sonny McDermott Fermanagh Manager


Bruce Scott - Singer
Often referred affectionately to by his friends as an FBI (Foreign Born Irishman), Bruce Scott hails from the City of Liverpool. Bruce is well known in Irish traditional singing circles through his many appearances at festivals in both Ireland and Britain and is a long-time regular visitor to the Fleadh Nua festival in Ennis each year. He was a member of the group who took part in the 2007 Comhaltas Concert Tour of Ireland and also the 2008 Tour of Britain. Bruce has also composed many songs and one of his compositions “The Colleen by the Shore” won first prize in the category for English ballads at the 2004 All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil in Clonmel.

Joe Arkins - Singer
Joe Arkins, a Co. Councillor from Ruan in Co. Clare is a regular in Clare’s singers circle. Joe sings traditional Irish ballads and folk songs as well as story telling and recitation. Joe has toured in Germany with the Ennis Singers Club and in the UK with the Irish Rambling House and the Comhaltas Concert Tour. He has also composed a number of humorous and satirical ballads and parodies. Throughout the Summer he acts as Fear a’Tí in Cois na hAbhna, Ennis entertaining audiences in the after-Seisiún entertainment.

Eimear Arkins – Singer/Fiddle
Eimear Arkins (daughter of Joe) from Ruan in Co. Clare is a highly talented young traditional singer, musician and dancer. Eimear is one of Ireland’s finest sean nós singers and has been awarded many All-Ireland titles. She has recently toured Ireland and Britain as a member of the Comhaltas Concert Tour group and is also an accomplished fiddle and flute player. Eimear has participated in the Comhaltas Summer Seisiún shows for many years now and is currently a member of the Ceol na hInse group who perform regularly in Cois na hAbhna, Ennis.

James Mahon – Uilleann Pipes
Hailing from South County Dublin, James Mahon is an accomplished performer on traditional flute, uilleann pipes and whistle. James has earned many honours in performance winning seven all Ireland titles at fleadhanna amongst other recognized competition titles. He has a flair for arrangement that was further sparked by his decision to pursue a Bachelor Degree in Music from the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama where he is currently studying. His musical interests are diverse and he recently has begun exploring the world of Ethnomusicology. James has appeared on stages all around Europe and the United States and has recently worked with conductor Dave Brophy and the DIT Symphony orchestra performing large excerpts from Shaun Davey’s “Brendan Voyage”.

Peter Staunton – Button Accordion
Peter Staunton is a button accordion player from Dublin. He holds a number of Fleadh Cheoil medals, awarded for both group, duet and solo performances. In early 2008, Peter started Córas Events - a business providing Traditional Irish Music for events and functions around Ireland, and indeed around the world. Peter is studying for his MA in Traditional Irish Music Performance in the Irish World Music Centre in the University of Limerick. He also plays guitar, piano, trumpet and percussion and has a keen interest in fusing traditional music with more modern genres. Peter Staunton acted as sound engineer for the Echoes of Erin 2008 Tour Album and is a regular performer with the Fonntraí show at Cultúrlann na hÉireann in Dublin.

Ryan Murphy – Flute
Ryan Murphy from Fermoy in County Cork is an excellent flute-player and has appeared on numerous Comhaltas concert tours in Ireland, Britain and North America. He has also toured with other groups such as the Belfast Harp Orchestra. Ryan also plays the uilleann pipes having started on this very challenging instrument when he was only seven years of age. He has won numerous All-Ireland titles on both pipes and pipe slow-airs. His mastery of the uilleann pipes was recognised by his musician peers from an early stage in his musical life and he is widely respected not just for his piping and flute playing, but also for his wide repertoire.

Cathy Potter – Harp
Cathy, from County Antrim and a member of the Loughbeg Branch of Comhaltas, is a highly talented young harper. Her performances on the instrument have been widely acclaimed and she has featured amongst the prize-winners at All-Ireland fleadhanna cheoil events on a number of occasions. She has toured with Janet Harbison as part of the Irish Harp Orchestra, playing in Germany and at the Derek Bell Memorial Concerts with the Chieftans. Cathy has taken part in the Comhaltas Concert Tour of Ireland in 2007 and Britain in 2008.

Zelda O’Brien - Concertina
Zelda is an accomplished young Dublin concertina player. She is a member of Cuman na bPobairí Uilleann Branch of Comhaltas and the Leinster Youth Group. Her talents also include Irish dancing and she participated in the 2008 Comhaltas Concert Tour of Britain as a dancer. Zelda’s expertise on the concertina will no doubt have been influenced by her teachers who include virtuouso performers, Michael Rooney, Noel Hill and Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh!

Aonghus Buggie – Banjo
Aonghus, a Civil Engineering student, comes from Stradbally in County Laois. Along with Mary O’Reilly, Aonghus is the second person on the Tour group who is a member of Camross Comhaltas. His family are also involved in Irish traditional culture and all of his sisters are Irish dancers. Aonghus is an exceptional young banjo player who achieved first place in the Under 18 category at the 2006 All-Ireland Fleadh in Letterkenny and was also a member of the 2008 Comhaltas Concert Tour of Britain.

Eibhlín Healy – Fiddle
Eibhlín, a Primary School Teacher student at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, hails from Abbeyfeale. She’s an excellent fiddle player who started on the instrument at the age of four! She also plays whistle and concertina. Eibhlín is a member of Templeglantine Comhaltas and has won many trophies with the Branch in Plearacha and Scoraíocht competitions at the Fleadh Nua. In her own right she has a number of All-Ireland titles to her credit including “fiddle, slow airs” and “rogha gléas” competitions. Eibhlín was a member of the 2007 Comhaltas Concert Tour of Ireland and also toured Britain, again with Comhaltas, in 2008.

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 toured with Comhaltas on the 2008 Concert Tour of Britain.

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