40 Bliain ag Fás - Celebrating 40 Years
Where it all began:
In February of 1981, Anna Pegley formed a 4-hand dance team and this group took part in Scór in St Mary’s GAA, Leixlip. This event sparked the idea of forming a branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann(CCÉ) in the locality. A committed group of local people worked with officers from Kildare County Board of CCÉ and on the 25th of February 1981 a vibrant branch was formed in Leixlip.
Matt Fitzpatrick R.I.P, became the first branch Cathaoirleach while our current Cathaoirleach, Breda Cody, was elected as the first secretary of the branch. CCÉ Leixlip grew quickly and in our early years, our community reached beyond Leixlip with members joining from the surrounding towns of Maynooth, Celbridge and Lucan. Music and dance classes were swiftly organised in the new Community School, Coláiste Chiaráin and although our venue has changed to Scoil Uí Dhalaigh, we still run classes in music, song and dance to this day. Monthly music sessions followed and many musicians from far and wide travelled regularly to Leixlip to exchange tunes and lasting friendships were formed.
Our branch name changed in early 1990s after the untimely passing of Beartla Ó Flatharta R.I.P. Beartla was great musician and singer. He also was a very active member of the branch since its formation. Today our branch is known as Craobh Bheartla Uí Fhlatharta, Léim an Bhradáin, in his honour.
Competing in regional, provincial and All Ireland Fleadhanna Cheoil; Ceol an Gheimhridh, and Ceoltraí competitions has kept our members busy over the years. Many of our members have achieved the highest level of accolades at these competitions in music, song, dance and Comhrá Gaeilge. Leixlip hosted Ceol an Gheimhridh many times in the 80’s and the town also proudly hosted Fleadh Chill Dara on several occasions.
CCÉ Leixlip has grown in strength in the intervening years and we strive to be important voluntary organisation in the community. We support and participate in many local events, parish occasions, St Patrick’s Day parades, Intercultural celebrations, Culture Night and Seachtain na Gaeilge, showcasing the best of traditional music, song and dance.
Our branch has also developed connections with Comhaltas branches throughout the country and around the world! We have enjoyed many visits to Brú Ború in Cashel, Co. Tipperary; Mullingar, Co Westmeath; Ennis, Co. Clare; Templeglantine, Co. Limerick; Dun Uladh, Omagh, Co. Tyrone and Dundalk, Co Louth. We have also had international visits to Estonia in 1992, Tennessee USA for an International Cultural event and a trip to the Island of Maui in Hawaii for St Patrick’s Day 2014. Many of our musicians, singers and dancers travelled to Bressuire in France and Niles, Chicago as part of Leixlip Town Twinning Programme.
Where we are today:
Currently, we see the results of an enormous collective effort by a committed group of volunteers who work tirelessly to promote and encourage the teaching and promotion of Traditional Irish Music, Song, Dance and the Irish Language.
2020 and 2021 brought and continue to bring challenges, but even Covid-19 will not deter our spirit as we celebrate 40 years. In 2020 we moved all our face to face classes online without delay, we created an online event to bring the Culture Night celebration from the Wonderful Barn into people’s own homes and our annual Christmas Concert was broadcast for free in December! We look forward to a night of celebration in late 2021 for our 40th Anniversary!
We may be 40 years old, but we are still every bit as enthusiastic and as energetic as we were in February 1981! Our branch of Comhaltas has thrived for the past 40 years and we thank our loyal musicians, dancers and singers, our teachers and our voluntary committees. The support of our membership and our community, working diligently to keep our traditional culture alive since 1981 has been beyond words and we look forward to promoting the Traditional Arts for many, many more years to come. Ag súil le blianta fada ceolmhara amach romhainn.