A HUGE crowd turned up at the Alley Theatre on recently to take part in the inaugural family trad and folk session organised to launch the new Strabane Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCÉ).
“We were totally amazed with the response that we got, and it is clear from the turn-out that families in the area are hugely interested in getting their children to engage with traditional Irish music” explained Máire Ní Dhochartaigh, secretary of the new local branch.
The very family-oriented and learner-welcoming event saw young musicians and a number of tutors come from Strabane town, Ballybofey, Plumbridge, Aghyaran and the surrounding areas.
A wide range of instruments and skills were on display, including tin whistles, banjos, fiddles, guitar, accordions, the concertina, the harp, and traditional singing in Irish. Longstanding tutor in the town, Nollaig Ó Daimhín, was also in attendance with a number of his young students on tin whistle, fiddle, and concertina.
The audience of families were also treated to fine display of Irish dancing by Under 14-World Champion Caoimhe Devlin.
“We hope to build on this now” stated Sinéad Duffy, who was looking after recruitment of new interested members and learners on the day. “Many of those present signed our expression of interest forms, and we in the local branch now intend to look at providing for that extra demand in the coming weeks”.
Talks are taking place with Council Arts and Culture officials in the hope that the family trad and folk session can become a regular occurrence on the last Saturday of each month, to give young people and adult learners a safe, enjoyable and
neutral platform where they can publicly perform and share the tunes and songs that they are learning from their tutors in their classes.
The group extended thanks to John Kerr from Derry and Strabane District Council and the staff of the Alley Theatre for their support in making this a successful event.
Seán Ó Roideáin from the Comhaltas CEOL project in Dún Uladh also addressed those present, praising the great turnout, and wishing the new committee all the best with their work in the time ahead.
He extended an invite to the local Comhaltas to take part in the upcoming Remembering Edward Bunting Festival in Belfast on February 9 and 10. He sang a few songs himself at the follow-up adult session in Christy’s Bar, where a number of the musicians played for two hours following the Alley event.
• Anyone interested in supporting, learning or participating in Comhaltas activities in Strabane should contact the local branch on firstname.lastname@example.org