Spink Comhaltas celebrated a busy and very successful 2019 with their end of year BBQ on 23 August. This annual event took place in the beautiful surroundings of Rockview Walkways, just outside of Ballyroan, and it celebrates all of the achievements of 2019 along with being an opportunity for musicians and parents to meet in a relaxed and fun environment.
Welcoming everyone to the end of year party, chairman Lawrence Vesey noted that 2019 had been an exceptionally busy and successful year for the branch, with his own personal highlight being the magnificent concert delivered by Spink Comhaltas at the end of March which was a fund raiser for MS Laois as well as being a memorial concert for the late Tom Bonham. This concert had huge support and commitment from everyone in Spink as well as the local community, and this outpouring of generosity helped to raise over €9,000 for MS Laois.
It was a very busy and successful year in competitions for Spink, with musicians taking part in every age group – one of the very few Comhaltas groups in Leinster to achieve this. The All Ireland Fleadh had a very strong representation from Spink with musicians in 19 competitions, and all of these musicians performed magnificently winning 6 medals.
However, music is not all about competitions. Throughout the year, Spink has supported community events across their locality – St Patrick’s Day parades, nursing homes in Abbeyleix and Ballyragget, a summer music Seisiún series in Heritage House in July and August, and most recently providing the music for the Bulfin Heritage cyclists as well as the Power of Words Literary festival in Abbeyleix.
Spink place a big emphasis on education and has prepared and supported young musicians to sit the Comhaltas SCT music exams every year since 2014. This year saw continued success in these exams, with Ceara Mackessy awarded a gold medal for success in the final exam stage – the 3rd year in a row that a Spink musician has won this rare award. A large number of younger musicians successfully completed earlier stages of this exam during the year. SCT certificates were awarded to successful entrants at the end of year BBQ.
In 2017, to recognise their commitment to Spink over a number of years, and to leave them with a momento of their time with Spink, Spink Comhaltas commissioned a special commemorative medal, the “Spink Ceoltóir” (Spink Musician) medal to present to junior members who turn 18. Lawrence Vesey noted that “we hope that all of the recipients of this medal will continue their association with Spink into the future, either as an adult member and supporter, as a member of O18 groups and bands in the future, or reflecting the ‘Spirit Of Spink’ wherever they go, and knowing that they will always be welcomed at a Spink Seisiún.” The 2019 recipients are
Finally, the ‘Stella Lynch’ trophy was presented to the 2019 recipients Maeve Weston and Éabha Dowling McDonald. This award is intended to recognise an U18 member of Spink who has made an outstanding contribution to the branch, and who contributes to the overall spirit of Spink Comhaltas. The contribution is not necessarily excellence in competitions, although this may be a factor. Primarily, it is intended to recognise participation in Spink events, supporting others (either by encouragement or coaching), taking initiative, putting forward ideas, being a good role model for younger members, and making a positive contribution to an overall healthy and enjoyable atmosphere which we try to promote in Spink branch. Congratulations to Maeve and Éabha for their award.