7 medals for Spink Comhaltas at All Ireland
Spink Comhaltas had a busy weekend at the All Ireland Fleadh in Drogheda with the competitors taking part in 19 competitions as well as having two groups of musicians performing on gig rig, Radio na Gaeltachta and a member taking part in the National Folk Orchestra.
The All Ireland is like the Olympics of trad music – just to get there is a major achievement, never mind winning a medal. Spink’s weekend kicked off on Friday with a great performance from our U15 and some of our U18 musicians performing on the gig rig to a packed out audience. It was a great experience for them playing live in front of a large audience and they got a great reception from the crowd.
The National Folk Orchestra of Ireland is made up of 60 of the best traditional Irish musicians from across Ireland. Laois were well represented with Robert Harvey, Claire and Ciara Faherty as well as David Vesey from Spink Comhaltas. Conducted by Tom Doorley, this orchestra performed the world premiere of the Oriel Wave suite on Friday with a repeat performance on FleadhTV subsequently.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday were very busy for our competitors. Spink had musicians competing in all 4 age categories, and all of them delivered first class performances against very strong competition from across Ireland and the rest of the world. Well done to Simon Groarke, Molly O’Rourke, Conor Thompson, Aaron Mackessy and Ciara Mackessy – while they were unfortunate to place just outside the medal positions, everyone of them performed magnificently and should be very proud of their achievements. Certainly, everyone in Spink is.
Our other competitors were fortunate to place in the medal positions. Mark Vesey won the first Laois medal of the weekend on Friday for U18 céilí band drums with his accompanists Caoime Lowry and David Vesey on concertina and flute. Daniel Aylward had a very busy weekend and was 3rd in U12 flute and 3rd in U12 pipes. Our two story tellers both won – Michael Lynch placing 2nd in Irish and Michael Somers 3rd in English. David Vesey finished off the weekend with 2nd place in the senior piano competition.
In between, members of the Glenbarrow Céilí band entertained audiences in Drogheda and across the country with their performances on the gig rig as well as on Radio na Gaeltachta.
The weekend’s 7th medal was a special award for Brendan Reilly – a Gradam an Seirbhís award was presented to him for a lifetime’s contribution to Comhaltas across all levels – as a founder of Spink Comhaltas, past chairman of Laois Comhaltas, Auditor of Leinster Comhaltas, volunteer, as well as a member of the famous Ballyroan Halfset. Comhghairdeas to Brendan from everyone in Spink.
Spink Comhaltas also donated a trophy to the All Ireland Fleadh for the U12 Melodeon competition as part of our contribution to encouraging young musicians and recognising excellence. Congratulating all of the musicians who competed in Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, Chairman of Spink Comhaltas, Lawrence Vesey, noted that the real value of the Fleadh competitions was providing a focus and motivation to practice technique and develop repertoire. “While it is great to get placed in competitions, our longer-term objective is to develop well rounded musicians who continue playing music after they become adults, and who develop and retain a love of music. To that end, we place just as much emphasis in Spink Comhaltas on performing in community events and our local music seisiúns as we do in competitions”, he said.