Busy week at Fleadh Cheoil for Spink Musicians
A very busy time in Mullingar this week for the musicians and support team in Spink Comhaltas. Fleadh Cheoil, the largest traditional music festival in the world, is the culmination of competitions over the summer – from the Laois Fleadh Cheoil held in Abbeyleix in June, through the Leinster Fleadh in Dublin, and finally to the All-Ireland in Mullingar. Although, “All-Ireland” is an understatement, with the diaspora from all over the world competing, including musicians from as far away as Melbourne.
Just to get to the All-Ireland finals is a major achievement for any musician, particularly one based in Leinster, which is extremely difficult to qualify out of. So, all of the musicians who got to the starting line should be very proud of themselves, regardless of the medal results.
Spink Comhaltas was proud to have representatives at all four competition levels. And they all performed magnificently. Spink took home 3 silver medals. The winners were Méabh Dunne on flute at U12, Leah O’Donovan on concertina at U15, Daniel Aylward for uileann pipes slow airs at U18. Other competitors were just narrowly pipped for medals in their competitions, with Ailise Dowling-McDonald and Ciara Mackessy just outside the medal places. But they can be very proud of their performances.
However, competitions were not the only aspect that Spink Musicians were involved in. 20 of the musicians, including singers and dancers, took to the main stage on Thursday evening to entertain the large crowd.
Earlier that evening, a number of the Spink musicians were part of a 140 strong Meitheal Trad Orchestra which performed in St Paul’s Church, while a further group of Spink musicians were performing as part of the Leinster Youth Orchestra, led by Robert Harvey and Aaron Mackessy, both from Spink.
Finally, Spink was represented in the National Folk Orchestra of Ireland by David Vesey, who was also supporting the Meitheal Trad Orchestra earlier in the week. So, a busy week all round!
Spink Comhaltas was not the only Laois branch in Mullingar, with very strong representation from all the Laois Comhaltas branches in both competitions and other aspects of the festival. These Laois branches also enjoyed great medal results, with wins for Tadhg Dalton Portlaoise in U15 drums, and a one-two for Laois in the U12 Bodhran with Lily Butler from Portlaoise 1st, and Rian Nolan from Camross 2nd. A trio made up of musicians from Clonaslee and Portlaoise achieved 3rd place in the U18 trio competition – well done to Edel Conway, Fionn Connolly and Nell Kettle.
Laois Youth Officer Noel Stapleton, from Kilcavan, won 3rd place in the signature competition of Senior Accordion. The Buggy School of Dancing, who entered via Portlaoise Comhaltas, won a fine 3rd place in the Ladies U18, 8 hand Céilí Dancing competition. The Buggy Dancers also won 3rd place in the U15, 4 hand Céilí Dancing. A good weekend for the Buggy dancers! The first result of the weekend of competitions was from Ratheniska Comhaltas, who continue their fine tradition of dancing with a 3rd place in the 8-hand Céilí Dancing, U12 competition.
Spink Comhaltas also sponsors one of the trophies at Fleadh Cheoil – the U12 Melodeon competition, and congratulations to Seán Angland from Kerry who won this competition.
While the competitions might be over, Spink musicians still have a busy few weeks before they are back to school, with the last of the summer seisiúns in Aylward Rural Museum on Wednesday 16th August, a performance in Durrow library as part of Heritage Week on Thursday, and the end of year BBQ and awards on Friday 25th August. In between, Spink will be performing at The Power of Words Festival in Abbeyleix. And of course, there is a small matter of getting ready for a 40th birthday party in November. More on that to follow.
Finally – registration for the 2023/24 music season is now open, so register here if you would like your child to start their journey in music with Spink Comhaltas