Skibbereen Comhaltas members, joined by National President of Comhaltas Vince Jordan, Munster Council officers and Cork County Board officers gathered in the West Cork Hotel on Saturday, October 26th to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the branch in 1969. Festivities commenced with a Mass in St Patricks Cathedral remembering all deceased members of the branch followed by an evening of celebrations in the West Cork Hotel. The branch Seisiún performance group delighted the large audience in attendance with a performance of music, song, dance and storytelling showcasing the talents of the branch members.
Comhaltas President, Vince Jordan who hails from Birmingham commended the members of Skibbereen branch for their initiative and endeavour in promoting the aims and activities of Comhaltas over the last 50 years. He said Skibbereen branch is ‘famed for its authentic music, song and dance’ and he praised the talented members of the Seisiún group for the high standard of their performance. He said the members of Skibbereen Comhaltas ‘are a credit to their local community and to Ireland’.
Chairman of the Munster Council of Comhaltas, Tadhg O Maolcatha congratulated the branch members on ’fifty productive years’ and he said it is evident the branch is ready to continue its good work for many more years into the future. He reflected on the four Munster Fleadhanna hosted by Skibbereen in 1976, 1995, 2001 and 2003 – all of which were hugely successful occasions. He recalled the opening of the 2001 Munster Fleadh, where the late Branch Secretary Peg Davis planted an oak tree in the grounds of Skibbereen Heritage Centre. He said he was delighted to see that her vision that ‘the Skibberen branch would grow like the oak tree’ has now become a reality.
Chairman of Skibbereen Comhaltas, Con McCarthy said the Skibbereen branch has ‘not only survived in Skibbereen but it has now become a permanent and functioning part of the local community’. In his address he looked back on the history of the branch over the past fifty years paying a special tribute to the founding members of the branch namely Pat Maloney, Mick Hussey R.I.P, Carthach Ó Cuilleanáin R.l.P, Fionn Ó Cuilleanáin R.l.P, Miah O'Driscoll R.I.P and Joe O'Sullivan R.l.P. From those humble beginnings the branch has now grown to become one of Ireland’s largest branches of Comhaltas. Skibbereen has hosted the Munster Fleadh and Cork County Fleadh on many memorable occasions and branch members have been hugely successful over the years winning numerous County, Munster and All-Ireland titles. The branch has organised music and dancing classes and branch members have always been willing to play and contribute at local events. He thanked his fellow officers, branch members past and present and the people of Skibbereen who have supported the branch over the last 50 years.
The evening continued with a night of music, dancing and singing which was enjoyed by all!