Sligo Town Branch


  • Maria McLoughlin
  • Sligo Town
  • Sligo
  • +353 (0)868218846
  • Visit Website


The Town of Sligo branch of Comhaltas was established originally in 1958. The branch held regular sessions in Old Kelly’s Hotel in Bridge Street, and among the regular attenders were; Jimmy Higgins, Joe O’Callaghan. Noel Strange and Manus O Donnell would drive up from Longford while John Joe Gordon would travel down from Kiltyclogher in Co. Leitrim. It is of interest to note that Comhairle Connachta was only established in 1960. Activities waned in the late 1960’s but the branch was restablished in 1974. Among those instrumental in thr re-formation were, Carmel Gunning, Joe O Dowd, Martin Enright, Declan Bree, Carmel Mc Manus, Din Mannion, Catherine McConville, Paul Jennings, Jim Meehan and others.The branch hosted a weekly session every Tuesday night in the Sligo United Trades Club for almost thirty years. The folk group Pumpkinhead arrived from the USA around this time and together with such famous musicians as ; Thom Moore, Rick Epping, Andy Irvine, Maurice Lennon, Loretta Reid, Brian Taheny and with such craftspersons as Joe O Dowd, Tommy Collis, Josie McDermott, Verona Ryan and Carmel Gunning. Another great character who performed weekly was piper Larry O Dowd who enthralled audiences with his renditions of marches and set dances on the Irish War Pipes. In the 1980’s such was the success and popularity of the branch that a second weekly session was organised in The Strand House, in nearby Strandhill. By 1986 the branch was so strong that it hosted Fleadh Cheoil Connacht in Sligo town. Sadly in August 1987 founder member Joe O Dowd died suddenly. Shortly after his death a meeting was held to discuss the provision of a memorial to his memory. After several suggestions Vince Hearns proposed that the greatest memorial that could be provided would be to bring Fleadh Cheoil na h-Éireann to Sligo town and it was unanimously agree to set in train the actions needed to accomplish this. As part of the overall plan to gain the necessary organisational experience, the branch hosted Fleadh na nGael and used it as a vehicle to revive the Fiddler of Dooney Competition that was first run in 1965. This was accomplished with great success in 1988. Ther branch eventually hosted three innovative and absolutely memorable All Ireland Fleadhs in 1989,1990 and 1991. Activities of the branch declined in the following decade with only occasionsl sessions in Sligo Town. The branch organised the 2005 and the 2006 county Sligo County Fleadheanna in Strandhill , both of which were a great success. We are delighted to announce that our Branch will be hosting the Fiddler of Dooney competition on the October Bank Holiday weekend 2007.

This branch organises and administers the famous Fiddler of Dooney, Fiddle competition annually. There are trophies and cash prizes amounting to €2,500. This competition was inaugurated in June of 1965 and some of the more notable winners are as follows; Seamus Connolly Co. Clare, Seamus Maguire Sligo, Gerry Forde Wexford, Matt Crannitch Cork, Manus Maguire Sligo, Tony Smith Cavan, Bríd Harper Donegal, Mcdara Ó Raghaillaigh Meath, Elizabeth Keane Galway. The 2007 competition took place in Sligo Town on Sunday 28th October. See Website below for further details and results.

Visit our website for latest information and Fiddler of Dooney results


The current committee of Sligo Town Branch:
Title Name
Chairman Martin Enright
Secretary Marie McLoughlin
Treasurer Verona Ryan
PRO Joyce Enright
Treorai na Gaeilge Pat Kearney
Youth Officer John Scott
Auditor Margaret Connolly