Concert Tour of North America 2008

11 September 2008, 2:09 PM GMT

Concert Tour of North America 2008

The 2008 Concert Tour of North America enters the annals as a classic in this long line of Comhaltas tours. Seán Ó Sé from Cork (singer and Fear a’Tí) headed up the group who had also performed in that historic concert in October 2007 in Stormont, Belfast, the seat of Power of the new Power Sharing Assembly for the North of Ireland. Seán, who originally performed with the legendary O’Riada Ceoltóirí Cualann group in the Gaeity Theatre back in the sixties, thrilled audiences with some of his own songs including that all time classic “An Poc ar Buile”.

Also among their number was celebrated FBI man (no, not a law enforcement officer but Foreign Born Irishman) Bruce Scott, noted traditional singer from Liverpool. That City may have given us Lennon and McCartney but these were only trailblazers for Bruce who has himself penned many a fine song!

The Comhaltas Concert Tour group, who included some of the top Irish traditional musicians, singers and dancers, visited the following venues listed below.


Date Location Venue
Sunday, October 5 Dublin, Ireland Farewell concert at the Cultúrlann na hÉireann
Wednesday, Oct. 8 Mineola, NY Irish American Centre
Thursday, Oct. 9 Pearl River, NY Pearl River High School
Friday, Oct. 10 Milford, CT Veterans Memorial Auditorium
Saturday, Oct. 11 Waltham, MA Waltham High School Auditorium
Sunday, Oct. 12 North Andover, MA The Rogers Center, Merrimack College
Tuesday, Oct 14 St Louis, MO Lee Theatre, Touhill Performing Arts Center, University of Missouri
Wednesday, Oct. 15 Kansas City, MO Rockhurst College
Thursday, Oct. 16 Detroit, MI Gaelic League Hall
Saturday, Oct. 18 Chicago, IL The Irish American Heritage Center


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 the 2007 Comhaltas Concert Tour. 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.

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.

Kylie Moynagh – Concertina
Kylie, who has been playing concertina for eleven years, is a member of the highly talented Moynagh family from Dublin and her sisters Lindsay (harp) and Chanelle (banjo) plus brother Elvin (uilleann pipes) have already featured on many Comhaltas concert tours. Along with the rest of her family, including her mother Marion (accordion), Kylie is a member of the Gleann na Coille Céilí Band who have represented Leinster in many recent All-Ireland Fleadhanna Cheoil competitions. Kylie has been a valued and key member of the regular Fonntraí Seisiún group in Cultúrlann na hÉireann, Dublin for more than five years.

Niamh Varian-Barry - Fiddle
Cork-born Niamh has been studying music since the early age of 3. Starting on violin, and also taking up viola, piano and guitar, she graduated from the Cork School of Music in 2007 with an Honours Bachelor of Music, majoring in performance and music technology. She is currently studying for her Masters in Performance. Classically trained, she also has a huge talent and grá for traditional Irish traditional music, which is rooted in her father’s side of the family, her father being a banjo player from Castlegregory. Niamh has studied with Seamus Creagh and shared the stage with Tommy Fleming, Brendan Begley, Altan, Maurice Lennon, Martin Tourish and Zoe Conway. Her natural flair for improvisation and experimentation brings a freshness to the music, and a genuine heartfelt and passionate approach to Irish music.

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!

Mary O’Reilly – Accordion
Laois born Mary O’Reilly is a Primary school teacher and is also a member of Camross Comhaltas. This Branch will forever be associated with the memory of the late Stephen Conroy who did so much in his lifetime for Comhaltas and Irish traditional culture. It will therefore come as no surprise that Mary O’Reilly, through her talent on the button accordion, manages to keep this great tradition alive on the world stage.

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.

Pat Flannagan – Fiddle
Tour Manager, Pat Flanagan was born in Newcastlewest in County Limerick but is now living in Roscrea, County Tipperary where he is Chairman of the local Branch of Comhaltas. Although a vet by profession, Pat is a highly skilled craftsman and a great traditional fiddle player. He has contributed greatly to the work of Comhaltas at all levels and is currently a member of the Munster Council also the national Ardchomhairle.

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.

Teresa Donohoe - Dancer
Teresa hails from County Westmeath and is a student on the BA in “Irish Music and Dance” course at the University of Limerick. She has toured with Comhaltas in the past, most notably on the historic visit to Stormont in October 2007. Teresa, a dancer with the Sionainn group, is also a performer in the modern Traditional Irish group, Tintreach of which she is a senior dancer and choreographer. A regular dancer at weddings with the Strawboys, she has also won numerous medals at competitions including Leinster, Irish and International Championships.

Aidan McLoughlin - Dancer
Aidan has been a championship dancer since he was eight years of age and has won All- Ireland titles in figure dance teams. He has danced on tours from the age of fourteen and is also a professional dancer with Celtic Rhythm. Aidan has danced with the Sionainn group from 2005 to 2008 and took part in the Comhaltas Tour of Ireland which visited Stormont in October 2007. He is also a traditional musician and a member of Glenfarne Comhaltas where he has won numerous county Fleadh Cheoil titles in Piano, Piano Accordion, Bodhran, Accompaniment, Céilí Band and Grúpaí Ceoil competitions.


Echoes of Erin 2008 included a variety of music, song and dance presented in an entertaining fashion while simultaneously providing an insight into our authentic Irish cultural traditions

Some of the selections of music from this year’s concert included favourite reels such as Pigtown, The Four Courts, and Ronnie Cooper along with lesser known old tunes such as The Queen of the West hornpipe and Tommy Maguire’s. The programme included a wide variety of rhythms and in addition to reels, jigs and hornpipes featured polkas, slides, a clan march, flings and slip jigs. Also included were some more recent compositions such as Paddy O’ Brien’s (Nenagh) The Banks of the Shannon, Seán Ryan’s PJ Moloney’s, Larry Redican’s Forget Me Not, Ed Reavy’s The Highest Hill in Sligo, and Philip Duffy’s Laura’s Reel.

A variety of dances were featured. In addition to reels, which have always been a favourite with audiences, Echoes of Erin 2008 included a two and three hand fling, The Drunken Gauger set-dance, Traditional Hornpipes and Jig-Steps. Singer Bruce Scott from Liverpool sang some of his own compositions such as The Coleen By the Shore during the show. Eimear Arkins represented the sean-nós singing with one of the great Connemara songs Tá na Páipéir Gan Saighneáil while Joe Arkins humoured the audiences with The Bodhrán Song and the art of recitation.

Echoes of Erin 2008 was presented by the veteran singer and presenter Seán Ó Sé. Many years have passed since Seán Ó Sé, through his work with Seán O Riada, first made such an impact on Irish audiences in Ireland and abroad. Over the intervening years Seán’s singing of new material such as The Wexford Medley and audience favourites Bhí Bean Uasal and An Poc ar Buile has continued to impact on audiences of all generations worldwide. Seán’s unique style of presentation provided Echoes of Erin 2008 audiences with a night of unsurpassed traditional Irish entertainment.

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