Skibbereen Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann

    Skibbereen, Co. Cork

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St Louis Irish Arts

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In the winter of 1969, at an informal gathering of musicians, the idea of forming a branch of Comhaltas in Skibbereen was first mooted. Present were Pat Maloney, Mick Hussey R.I.P, Carthach Ó Cuilleanáin R.l.P, Miah O'Driscoll R.I.P and Joe O'Sullivan R.l.P. With the sanction of Cork County Board, the branch was formed and membership grew to include many local people who enjoyed Irish music and shared the vision of Comhaltas. Paddy Fehily R.I.P, became our first branch President, Sean Kirby R.I.P was the first secretary and Peg Davis R.I.P succeeded him and served in that capacity from 1971 – 2001.

 

Skibbereen had an earlier connection with Irish traditional music in the person of Canon James Goodman, then Rector of Abbeystrewery Parish 1867 — 1896, a Gaelic scholar and collector of traditional airs for uilleann pipes. With the consent and assistance of Cork County Board, our branch has hosted the County Fleadh Cheoil on seven occasions in 1973, 1974, 1981, 1982, 1987, 1998 and most recently in 2010. We also had the honour of hosting Munster Fleadhanna Cheoil on four memorable occasions in 1976, 1995, 2001 and 2003.

 

The "Skibbereen Set", as it is known, originated in Baltimore where it was danced in the Fisherman's Hall for generations. It was introduced into our branch by two members who came from the Baltimore area and has since been danced and admired all over Cork County and in places as far away as Manchester and Brittany and has won trophies too numerous to mention.

 

Over the years, the branch has been hugely successful in Fleadhanna Cheoil competitions with our members winning numerous awards at county, provincial and All-Ireland level. One of our most memorable highlights was winning the All-Ireland Under 12 Céilí Band title at the 2006 Fleadh Cheoil in Letterkenny. We have also been hugely successful in Pléaracha na nÓg in recent years winning three All-Ireland titles in 2009, 2012 and 2014.  Our consistent success at Fleadh Cheoil Chorcaí is evidenced by the fact that Skibbereen branch has been awarded the title of Best Branch at Cork County Fleadh for fiftheen consecutive years.

 

Skibbereen Branch has been to the forefront in forming links with other units of Comhaltas. In February 1999, branch members travelled to Omagh and presented a cheque for £1,000 to the Omagh Disaster Fund and in doing so, forged strong and lasting links with the people of the area which were continued in 2003 when our Branch twinned with Newcastle CCÉ from Co. Down. A cultural exchange was held between our two branches when a large group from Skibbereen was hosted in Castlewellan, Co Down for Fleadh Amhrán is Rince and the exchange was completed when we hosted the Down group in Skibbereen for the 2003 Munster Fleadh Cheoil. In 2006, we took our music to an international audience, when 18 members of the Branch were hosted by St Louis Irish Arts in St Louis, Missouri, USA. This was the experience of a lifetime for all who travelled. In August 2007, a group of thirty members of St Louis Irish Arts made a return visit to Skibbereen. On August 15th 2007, the first International Twinning of Comhaltas Branches was formed between Skibbereen and St Louis Irish Arts, in the presence of Ard-Runaí CCÉ Tomás Ó Maoldomhnaigh. Our partnership programme with St Louis Irish Arts continues to grow and flourish. In Summer 2011, 25 members of Skibbereen Comhaltas visited St Louis for a magical ten day visit where many new friendships were formed and tunes were exchanged. The most recent visit by St Louis Irish Arts to Skibbereen took place in August 2013 where a magical joint concert was witnessed by a sell-out audience and many Comhaltas dignitaries including Ard-Stiúrthóir of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú.

 

Today Craobh an Sciobairín continues to go from strength to strength, thanks in no small part to the large numbers of talented young musicians in the West Cork area who are keeping our Irish traditional culture alive, but also due to our experienced and innovative Branch committee. In the last few years, there has been a revival in dancing in Skibbereen thanks to a dedicated team of dance teachers in the Branch. We have an excellent troupe of talented young step dancers who perform at Seisiún and at all branch events. One of our champion step-dancers Cara Hegarty was honoured to be chosen by Comhaltas in recent years to perform on Comhaltas Tours to Canada, Britain and Ireland.

 

 

Skibbereen CCÉ Branch History