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Tuesday, 13th August 2019

Musicians from around the world in Drogheda for the Fleadh

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Fiddle player Holy, half of the duo Holy Ground from Tokyo, playing in West Street this afternoon.

The standout musicians on West Street today were two lovely guys from Tokyo who call themselves Holy Ground. They are just two of the many musicians who have travelled to Drogheda from around the globe to take part in Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2019. (see video below).  

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is involved in the preservation and promotion of Irish traditional music, with hundreds of local branches across the world, including Japan, Australia, Brazil, Britain and North America. 

Comhaltas Japan was founded in 1991 and soon after musicians from Japan started to make the journey over to attend Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. 

Based in Tokyo, this branch continues to go from strength to strength and has benefitted in recent years from some financial support through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, Emigrant Support Programme which has allowed them to increase their activity in Japan. 

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This year they have over 10 musicians who have qualified in competitions to come to Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann on instruments including the flute, whistle, accordion, fiddle and hammered dulcimer. They also have a Sean-nós dancer coming to compete. 

The musicians and dancer will once again be representing Comhaltas Japan at the Overseas concert on Saturday night at St Peters Church of Ireland. 

Representing Australia Comhaltas, Cameron Mather (Sydney) is competing for the first time at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in banjo and accompaniment competitions. 

Comhaltas has had branches in Australia for almost 50 years but Comhaltas Sydney, one of the newest branches of Comhaltas, founded only this year. Comhaltas Sydney was established by Drogheda man Enda Murray who emigrated to Sydney many years ago but was inspired to start a Comhaltas branch after his visit home to Fleadh 2018 in Drogheda.  

As always, Comhaltas has strong representation from North America at Scoil Éigse and the Fleadh. Large numbers of musicians are travelling over from St. Louis, Chicago, and New York. All age groups are represented. Competitors from North America have already competed in one of two Regional Fleadhanna in America to earn the place to compete in Drogheda. 

Also representing the Irish-American connection is Colman Connolly, Grandson of Bardic Awardee accordion maestro Martin Connolly and Grand-Nephew of legendary Fiddler, Seamus Connolly. Colman is attending Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann with his father, accordion player Damien Connolly. 

Representation from Britain is again particularly strong with many competitors travelling over the Irish Sea. This year sees the 14th consecutive year that the St. Roch’s Senior Céilí band have made the journey from Glasgow to compete while The Parish Céilií band is a new senior céilí band based in London who are competing for the first time as a band. 

The overseas concert is an annual part of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann and has been a sell-out event for many years. It provides a chance over the fleadh weekend for visitors from all corners of the globe to meet, form friendships and renew old ties. 

This year's overseas concert will feature: 

  • Comhaltas Japan (10 musicians and Sean Nós Dancer)
  • Cameron Maher (Banjo - Sydney)
  • Alex Navar (Uilleann Pipes - Brazil Comhaltas)
  • St. Louis Irish Arts
  • Mid Atlantic Musicians from New York

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