The Leixlip Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann was founded on 25 February 1981. The branch set up music and dancing classes in Coláiste Chiaráin and these grew from strength to strength and today over 120 children and adults attend branch classes in a variety of instruments, sean nós dancing, grúpaí cheoil and bands in Scoil Uí Dhálaigh every Monday evening.
In the 80’s the branch eagerly participated in Scoraíocht, Ceol an Gheimhridh and Ceoltraí competitions with great success but in more recent years the branch prides itself in the success of its members in County, Leinster and All-Ireland Fleadhanna Cheoil. Members have represented Comhaltas abroad as well as other well-known touring groups and we are delighted that they have gone on to entertain audiences worldwide.
In 1991 the branch changed its name to Craobh Bheartla Uí Fhlatharta to remember one of its founders, Beartla Ó Flatharta RIP, a musician and singer who worked tirelessly to promote all aspects of our culture. The branch has been fortunate to have had vibrant members such as Beartla throughout the years whose hard work, dedication and knowledge has resulted in a thriving branch. Members have always been encouraged to take an active part in Comhaltas and the branch has played a pivotal role on the Kildare County Board, Leinster Council and Ard Comhairle (Central Executive Council).
While the technical aspects of music are best learnt in the classroom, the natural development of a musician takes place at informal sessions through playing and interacting with other musicians and learning new tunes and styles by ear. The branch recognises this and operates a busy social programme to give musicians as many opportunities as possible. While practising at home is important, discovering a new and rich tradition and making friends for life is the most important thing. To expose the younger musicians to the many traditional styles, we have travelled throughout the country to participate in festivals, workshops and sessions and have invited numerous musicians to our recitals and workshops. Our teachers were at one time in our beginner’s class and one of the most pleasing aspects of our work is seeing young people growing through the branch and then becoming the teacher. This creates a link between the old and new and forges a special culture and atmosphere within the branch.
The work of the branch has been recognised in the locality and Leixlip Town Council awarded a Civic Award to many of its members over the years. The Council also recognised the work of the branch on the occasion of its 30th anniversary.
The current committee carry on the great work and are confident that the branch will go from strength to strength in the coming years.
Ar aghaidh linn!