Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is the largest group involved in the preservation and promotion of Irish traditional music, song and dance and all aspects of Irish culture, affording the language special status. We’re a non-profit cultural movement with hundreds of local branches around the world, we’ve been promoting Irish music since 1951. Our efforts continue with increasing zeal as the movement launches itself into 2012.
The Comhaltas vision for our Irish cultural traditions is central to the continued work of the movement, a vision as follows: “The Irish cultural traditions should be an enriching part of the lives of Irish people everywhere, particularly our young people; they should be a living, highly visible and vibrant part of society; they should be easily accessible to all; and their unique social, cultural and economic benefits should be fully realised by communities and individuals throughout the country and in Irish communities abroad”.
The local unit (the branch) is the foundation stone of the organisation. The work of the branch is to promote our traditional music, song and dance through regular classes, informal sessions and more formal events such as concerts, etc. Such work creates a climate and awareness within the community which is conducive to the well being of our native cultural identity.
Because we’re so many different things to different people, it can be hard to keep track of the true scope of our activities! You might have been involved with a Comhaltas event and not even known it.
If you’re a student of Irish music, you might know about the music, dance and language classes that we teach through our network of branches. If you’re interested in learning the music, you might want to find which one of our 1,000 weekly classes is closest to you.
For musicians who like to play socially, you might be interested in finding a local Comhaltas music session. And if you’re not sure, how about just going along to listen?
Audiences around the world have seen our touring groups bringing Irish music, dance and storytelling on annual tours.
We also run the definitive system of competitions for Irish music, called the “Fleadh Cheoil” (literally “feast of music”). Musicians compete in a series of qualifying rounds, culminating in the annual All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, this year in Cavan.
We’ve collected an archive of thousands of hours of Irish music recordings, a large print library and a growing collection of videos. You can get a sample of some of this material by visiting www.comhaltasarchive.ie
We’re an international movement with our headquarters in Dublin, Cultúrlann na hÉireann. We also have a number of Regional Resource Centres, the Ulster office is based at Dún Uladh Cultural Heritage Centre; Omagh, you would be more than welcome to stop by for a visit, or to visit a local Comhaltas branch close to where you live. A definitive list can be found at; http://comhaltas.ie/locations/
History of Newcastle CCÉ
The history of Newcastle CCÉ is extensively set out in the book we published in 2002. However it is worth registering some ofthe highlights here, as well as updating our achievements since 2002.
The origins of this branch of Comhaltas lie in the Mountains of Mourne Ballad and Music Festival that took place in Newcastle in the late 1960s, whose participants were also involved in sessions in Kitty Cowans pub at the Harbour. The first formal meeting of Comhaltas in the old Girls School on Newcastle’s Main St registered 22 members.
Subsequent venues included a spell of approximately five years based in the Newcastle Watch House. Things dwindled for a while after 1975 as younger musicians moved away to work and study, although there were great sessions during those years in the Arkeen Hotel. In the early 1980s Seán P. Mac Ruairí along with his brother Matt Rodgers and Matt’s wife Nancy spearheaded a rejuvenation which has endured since. A committee
was elected and formal classes began at Carnacaville School in 1981. More recent venues have included Newcastle Parish Centre and Newcastle parochial house.
History will undoubtedly show that one of Newcastle CCÉs landmark achievements has been acquisition of our own premises in Dún Éigse since January 2008. We now have our own office, sound equipment and storage rooms, as well as excellent teaching and performance space which afford stunning views of the Mourne Mountains. The external gardens are tastefully landscaped and include a raised wooden platform with seating
area that is ideal for external functions.
Dún Uladh is Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann’s Regional Resource Centre for the Meitheal Uladh Region. This region incorporates Counties Antrim, Derry, Donegal, Down & Tyrone. Dún Uladh, along with the 6 other Meitheal Regional Centres across Ireland, makes the Comhaltas vision to “give people genuine access to the traditional arts” a reality. This is a unique centre for authentic Irish traditions, promoting Irish music, song, dance, drama and other native art forms, situated in the heart of Ulster. The centre provides facilities for Comhaltas members from across the region and across the Country. It hosts performances ranging from professionally produced concerts to informal sessions. The Centre also hosts music classes, Seminars and workshops for musicians and office bearers as part of the Comhaltas development plan.