A group of musicians on PEI got together in February to express their interest in setting up a branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and now they host in-person and online music classes in the style of traditional Irish music on concertina, fiddle, tin whistle, flute, guitar, harp and piano accompaniment, as well as traditional singing, step-dancing and sean-nós (old style) dancing.
Comhaltas, pronounced coal-tis, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of traditional Irish music and culture, especially in the teaching and sharing of traditions with younger generations. There are 400 Comhaltas worldwide.
Inspired by PEI’s famous red soil, the Island group is CCÉ Oileán Rua – Red Island Branch.
With so much of PEI’s population of Irish descent and the local scene thriving with traditional Irish music, the group felt there was an increasing drive and demand for such an organization on the Island.
Setting up a branch was led by Irish musicians, Cian Ó Mórain and Gormlaith Maynes, both graduates of the M.A. in Traditional Irish Music at the University of Limerick, Ireland.
Family physician Cian Ó Mórain, an avid Gaelgeoir (Irish language speaker), originates from Co. Kerry on the south west of Ireland. He moved to PEI five years ago. Gormlaith Maynes, originally from Drogheda on the east coast of Ireland, moved to PEI two years ago on scholarship and taught a module in the Irish Language at UPEI. Gormlaith was also Coordinator for Celtic and Traditional Music at Holland College.
In 2018, Holland College’s School of Performing Arts (SoPA) signed an agreement with the University of Limerick for SoPA graduates to further their studies in Ireland. Students are broadening their knowledge of Celtic and Irish music, further strengthening the link between Ireland and PEI—another incentive to set up a branch of Comhaltas to grow public awareness of traditional Irish music on PEI.
Building a strong committee was the initial goal and community support soon followed. Irish Pub owners Paul Mansour (The Old Triangle) and Kent McPhee (The Olde Dublin) sit as vice-chair and secretary. Local musicians Helen Gough, Betty Pryor, Tui Porcher and Mary MacGillivray each bring their own expertise and ideas as performers, teachers and advocates of the tradition.
The branch works in collaboration with UPEI and Holland College in educating about the language and tradition of Irish music. They also host virtual Cupán Cainte (Irish language conversations) and family cultural nights.
Stay tuned for music and dance classes coming this fall.
Info: Comhaltas CCÉ Oileán Rua – Red Island Branch on Facebook, firstname.lastname@example.org