It is very heartening to see that the promotion of Irish and traditional music is very much alive and well, not only in the North Cork/South Limerick region but indeed in this island as a whole. This was never more evident than in the streets of Drogheda last week at the Fleadh Cheoil which was once again a resounding success.
The Fleadh entails a whole week of Irish traditional music, song and dance, and this year, as in the past, hundreds and thousands made the annual journey to be part of our biggest celebration of Irish culture. It draws headline acts from the cream of the Irish music industry which this year, among others, included Nathan Carter and Damien Dempsey. Of course, Cork and Munster have always been well represented at this cultural celebration and never more so than this year, with the multi-award-winning Shandrum Céilí Band sharing Friday night’s stage with Altan, which was a huge draw. We are very fortunate to have them launching their current CD ‘The Boss Murphy Musical Legacy’ in St. Nicholas’s Church in Churchtown this Saturday night. The Shandrum are one of only a handful of céilí bands in the long history of the much coveted senior céilí band competition to achieve the elusive three All-Ireland successes in a row. In doing this, they join the ranks of the elite of céilí bands like the Kilfenora, the Siamsa, the Ormond, the Ennis, the Táin and the Naomh Padraig Céilí Bands.
In last week’s feature I mentioned that the Shandrum Céilí bands had played for our president, Michael D Higgins. This invitation came about during what was an especially busy year for the band, 2016, a year of many commemorations to mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising. In March of that year the band was honoured to receive an invitation to perform at a concert in the Áras as part of the official St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, where they were warmly received by President Higgins and his wife Sabina. During the official state commemoration the Shandrum were honoured to receive an invitation to perform at Dublin Castle, in front of an audience of dignitaries and many relatives of those who took part in the Rising. From then until the now, the band’s achievements have grown both nationally and internationally and the Shandrum Céilí Band are now among the cream of the crop.
So, it is a great honour for Churchtown that they have agreed to launch their current CD as party of the 150th celebrations of St. Nicholas’s Church and most importantly as a regional celebration of National Heritage Week. This concert has been much anticipated for many months and a large turnout is expected at the event. This concert is a free event with the admission fee courtesy of the bank and Church Heritage Society. It is a great source of pride that the original Boss Murphy’s great-grandson is an integral part of putting Saturday night’s celebration together. His valued contribution to the cultural life of the parish and the preservation of its heritage is widely recognised and very much appreciated. We are very proud of the parochial connections of Churchtown parish and the musical heritage of North Cork with this CD.
It has been an extremely busy month for both the Shandrum Céilí Band and its leader Alan after their much lauded appearance at the Fleadh and we in particular say congratulations to Alan on his great success with both the Crossfield 12 Céilí Band and the Crossfield U18s, both bringing back All-Ireland cups. This is a great achievement, bringing great pride to the county. It bodes well for the future of our musical heritage.