Volume 1, Issue 1
New Lichfield Comhaltas Branch Launched!
Lichfield gave birth to a new branch of Comhaltas Ceoltori Eireann in December 2001. Formed by a nucleus of musicians who have been playing together in a session at the Horse and Jockey pub at Freeford for almost two years, we have already formulated exciting plans for our first year.
The inaugural meeting took place in the Horse and Jockey and was launched by Vince Jordan, Chair of the South Birmingham branch, whose brother, Chris is the musical landlord of the pub. The Lichfield joins South Birmingham, Coventry and Jackfield (Telford) as CCE branches in the West Midlands.
Vince said that he was delighted that a new branch was getting off the ground and offered the full support and assistance of the South Birmingham branch. Tony the Chair of the new Branch said ‘This is a very exciting time. The Branch has got off to a flying start and there is a lot of enthusiasm’.
Activities already taking place planned (most of them covered elsewhere in the newsletter) include floats in the Birmingham St. Patrick’s Day parade and the Lichfield Bower parade and a ceili band
CCE 2002 Tour Comes to Birmingham
The Comhaltas 2002 tour is coming to the Irish Centre in Birmingham on Friday 22nd February , starting at 8pm. For more information speak to Vince Jordan at the Horse and Jockey Session or phone him on 0121 743 6958
Comhaltas concert tours form a vital part of the movement's annual work programme. For audiences at home and abroad, these tours showcase all that's best in our traditional music, song, and dance. Top class performers in all fields display the high standards and regional styles that have become synonymous with these events through the years.
Concert tours date back to 1972 when the first official North American Tour took place. The Tour of Britain in 1973 and the Tour of Ireland in 1980 followed.
Alternate Mondays: Horse and Jockey Freeford 9on the A51 beside the Rugby Club) —a cracking session. 8.30 pm on. Phone 01543 262924 for details
The other alternate Mondays: the Spotted Dog, Digbeth, Birmingham
Alternate Thursdays: Lichfield—venue to be confirmed. Phone 01543 262109 for details
Last Saturday of the month: Coopers Tavern, Cross Street, Burton-on-Trent
Phone 01543 262109 for details
A general air of optimism currently surrounds the newly formed CCE Lichfield branch and nowhere more so than amongst the ranks of the even more newly formed Lichfield Ceili Band. From the outset this was one of the intentions behind forming the branch and we can count ourselves incredibly lucky that we could immediately call upon the knowledge and experience of our friends in Birmingham, such as Vince and his sister Mary, Tommy Boyle and of course our own Chris, all of whom are ceili band veterans. Since Christmas we have worked to put together what we hope will be a winning team for our entry at the Midland Regional Fleadh at Princethorpe College, Warwickshire on Sunday 12th May. The line-up of the band is as follows: Chris Jordan and Ian Bradshaw on box, Lisa Lofas and myself on flute, Martin Thompson, Paul Jordan and Jackie Oates on fiddle, Derek Roberts on banjo, Kathleen Boyle on keyboard and Michael Jordan on drums. Chris has come up with some great tunes for us to play at the Fleadh and weekly practises are already underway. I should say here how pleased and grateful Chris and I feel, as the only two band members actually living in Lichfield, that the rest are enthusiastic enough to travel from as far away as Derby, Stafford and Leamington to be part of our band. I think this reflects how people feel generally about how Irish music in Lichfield has developed over the last couple of years.
As well as the Fleadh, other events are in the pipeline which will involve some of the Ceili Band at least, such as a concert spot at Tony Downey's school, a float in Birmingham St. Patrick's Day Parade and Lichfield Bower, and a concert spot in Beacon Park, Lichfield on the evening of the Bower. Beyond that, who knows........more fleadhs, concerts, maybe even an actual ceili? We'll keep you posted.
CD Review—The Mulcahy Family
Delightful, entrancing, magical………...Irish music at its purest and sweetest. Mick Mulcahy and his two teenage daughters from Abbeyfeale in West Limerick playing between them five different instruments. Mick Mulcahy has been playing Irish music for many years in London and Ireland and plays accordion and concertina. His older daughter Louise plays flute and uilleann pipes, while Michelle plays accordion and concertina and also the harp on this CD, but according to the cover is rapidly becoming an accomplished fiddle player.
The sisters have won many All-Ireland titles. It is hard to pick out tracks from such a consistently beautiful album, but for me the harp tracks particularly the Martin Wynne’s/Lad O’Beirne’s set is magical, as is the Belles of Tipperary—also known as the New Policeman. ( This tune is printed on the back page of the newsletter)
Incidentally we learn from the album sleeve that Mick’s father and uncle both lived in Birmingham—so maybe the family is due for a return visit.
History and Aims of Comhaltas
In January 1951, representatives of the Thomas Street (Dublin) Pipers' Club went to Mullingar for a meeting with traditional music enthusiasts from County Westmeath. Two ideas which had already been mentioned amongst traditional musicians were discussed at this meeting; the first was the founding of an organisation to promote Irish traditional music while the second was the organising of a great annual festival of Irish traditional music, song and dance.
A further meeting was held in February, and at this meeting it was decided that, in conjunction with Feis Lár na hÉireann (a Gaelic League Feis which had been held in Mullingar for many years), a Fleadh Cheoil would be organised in the town in May over the Whit weekend.
On October 14th, 1951, at Árus Ceannt, Thomas Street, Dublin, the first standing Committee of Cumann Ceoltóirí na hÉireann was elected. At a meeting in St. Mary's Hall, Mullingar, on January 6th, 1952, the title of the organisation was changed from Cumann Ceoltóirí na hÉireann to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. Comhaltas now has more than 400 branches, established in every Irish County, in Britain, the US, Canada, and worldwide in places such as Japan, Hungary, Sardinia, and Australia.
The aims of CCE are
¨ To promote Irish Traditional Music in all its forms
¨ To restore the playing of the harp and Uilleann Pipes in the National life of Ireland
¨ To promote Irish Traditional Dancing
¨ To foster and promote the Irish Language at all times
¨ To create a closer bond among all lovers of Irish music
¨ To co-operate with all bodies working for the restoration of Irish Culture
¨ To establish branches throughout the country and abroad to achieve the foregoing aims and objects
Mike McGoldrick at Ceol Castle
The venue is Ceol Castle in Birmingham; the artist is Michael Mc Goldrick and the style is traditional and fusion ie a fusion of styles and influences. And no better place than Birmingham for fusion.
As Ceol Castle is in Balsall Heath I had to go for a balti first—we are in the balti quarter. Fish and chips have now been displaced by Indian food as the most popular dish in the country.Chicken Tikka Massala is the favourite dish. This I believe is a Birmingham invention a fusion of dishes not found in India. After the Balti off to Ceol Castle for a pint of Guinness, more fusion there.
Michael Mc Goldrick at Ceol Castle. The Castle of song. The ancient Irish musicians travelled from castle to castle enteraining the nobility. One of these was O’Rourke whose son Ualdric gave us the name Mac Ualdric currently known as Mc Goldrick. This wizard on the flute is from Manchester with a jazz funk traditional band.
Impossible to label except to say they /he were wonderful and thoroughly enjoyed by a very appreciative audience. And how Chris Stapleton deserves a full house. As Ronnie Scott's on Brosd street is no longer to be a Jazz centre, Ceol Castle is fast becoming the music centre of
Birmingham.. We have a continuous supply of first class Irish artists Joe Burke one night, our American cousins Cherish the Ladies, Sean Keane from Connemara and that Manchester wizard Michael McGoldrick. For years we were lucky if the Dubliners and one or two others were in town ; now it is a regular occurence.
Finally ,back to the concert: the band were joined by two local bangra players a perfect image of the Birmingham fusion; a type of tikka massala but in traditional Irish music. I wonder if anyone remembers how Gerry Coady tried the same fusion—bangra and Irish at the Oddfellows?
Tony Downey (Food Correspondent)