of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann

An Irish Culture Organization promoting the music, song, dance, and language of Ireland


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Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann Newsletter

Promoting the music, song, dance, and language of Ireland

September 1995

Irelands premier cultural movement since 1951 with 400 branches around the world

The material in this newsletter is copyright 1995. We welcome this information to be distributed in the spirit of Comhaltas -- to enhance the Irish heritage -- but please give credit to the source: Comhaltas Newsletter, Seery/Curry Branch, Third Qtr '95.

A Chairde Gael

I trust that all our members had a nice summer and that you are looking forward to the new fall season of activities when we can be together for friendship, music, and dance. We have a busy schedule for the fall and we need lots of help from our members. Remember, our great branch is only strong because of our wonderful membership. We value your opinion and if you have any ideas or suggestions, please do not hesitate to call me. Our aim as a Comhaltas branch is to promote and preserve Irish culture any way we can.

The 1995 C.C.E. Annual concert tour this year will perform at East Catholic High School in Manchester, CT on Friday, October 13, at 8 PM. Two very generous members, Debbie Thompson and Bob Carbery, came forward to chair this event. Let's do our part by helping them with ticket sales and volunteering to help at the concert.

Our branch was represented at the Annual Convention meetings in Tarrytown by the branch secretary and the chairperson. We had one of the largest contingents present at the convention. As you will see from the newest issue of the Treoir Magazine, our branch got a lot of coverage. Labhras O Murchu forwarded to me a copy of the R.T.E. video that was made at the convention. We will show this video at the Northeast Regional Meeting to be held at the I.A.C.C. in New Haven, CT on November 11, 1995.

Again as we begin a new year at C.C.E., I am asking for your help and cooperation to help keep the Curry-Seery Branch the best it can be.

Beannachtaí Naoimh Pádraig oraibh go léir.

Mise le meas

Joan Kennedy

Remember to teach your children your heritage; otherwise, someone else may teach them theirs.

Comhaltas Calendar of Events

Sunday -- September 10
A membership meeting will be held at 3 PM at the Irish American Community Center in New Haven. A sessiun and dancing will follow the meeting.

Friday -- September 15
Cherish the Ladies, the all-woman ensemble of traditional Irish musicians, will put on a concert in Manchester at 8 PM in Cheney Hall. Tickets are $15 and seniors and children $13. For tickets or more details, call (203) 645-6743.

Weekend -- September 23
The Danbury AOH will present it's first Irish Festival. For further details contact the Danbury AOH club.

Weekend -- September 29
Boston College's Irish Studies Program will present Gaelic Roots II on their campus in Chestnut Hill outside of Boston. For more information or advanced registration, call (617) 552-0490.

Friday -- October 13
The Annual C.C.E. Concert will be at 8 PM at the East Catholic High School, 115 New State Road, Manchester, CT. For tickets or info (or to volunteer as a helper!) call Bob Carbery at (413) 584-7028 or Debbie Thompson at (203) 665-9013. or see the full article later in this newsletter for more details.

Sunday -- October 15
Fall Foliage Feis is scheduled to be held in Torrington, CT. For further details, contact the Chairperson, Jack T. McArdle, at (203) 485-0027.

Sunday -- October 22
Horgan Academy Feis is scheduled to be held in Ansonia, CT. For further details, contact the Chairperson, Irene Horgan, at (203) 723-0568.

Sunday -- October 29 at 2:30 PM
Our Annual General Meeting and election of officers will be held at the AOH in Waterbury, CT. A Sessiun and dance will follow the meeting and elections. Mike Meehan is in charge of the nomination of officers. Call him at (203) 755-8047 with candidates you wish to have nominated.

Sunday -- November 5
Southern Connecticut State Feis is scheduled to be held in Fairfield, CT. For further details, contact the Chairperson, Patricia Linaban, at (203) 261-6636.

Saturday -- November 11
The Curry-Seery Branch will host the Northeast Regional Meeting at the Irish American Community Center in New Haven. This meeting is open to all members of C.C.E. There will be a pot luck supper following the meeting (approx. 6:30 PM) so bring your favorite dish. A sessiun and dance will follow.

Please contact the editor with any upcoming events for publication in the newsletter.

Classes and Lessons

Music Lessons -- Monday -- 7:30 P.M.
Irish instrument lessons are held each Monday evening beginning at 7:30 PM at the Gaelic American Club in Fairfield, CT Contact MaryAnn Fahey at 261-8096 for further information.

Music Lessons -- Tuesday -- 7:00 P.M.
Traditional Irish Music Lessons with John Whelan are held on Tuesday evenings at 7 PM at the I.A.C.C. in New Haven. Call Andrea at 484-2655 for more details.

Irish Language Classes -- Wednesday -- 7:30 P.M.
Irish Language Classes are held each Wednesday at 7:30 PM at I.A.C.C. in New Haven. Call David Manning at 888-4041 for details.

Music Lessons -- Thursday -- 8:00 P.M.
Ceili and Set Dance Lessons are held on Thursday Evenings at the Gaelic American Club in Fairfield at 8 PM. Call Joan Kennedy at 393-0377 for further information.

Irish Language Lessons -- Thursday -- 7:00 P.M.
Irish Language Lessons are offered at the Gaelic American Club in Fairfield on Thursdays at 7 PM. Call Jim Fahey at 255-5845 for details.

Irish Singing Group -- Thursday -- 7:15 P.M.
"O'Donovan's Chantoozies" is a singing group formed for the enjoyment of singing. Gina Dunlap, director for the group points out that a great voice is not needed; but that a love of singing is the only requirement. Don't miss the fun times with this group. Gatherings are at the IACC in New Haven. For more details call Gina Dunlap at (203) 393-1064.

Ceili & Set Dance -- Friday -- 9:00 P.M.
Ceili & Set dancing. Lessons each Friday evening beginning at 9 PM at the I.A.C.C. in New Haven. Contact Joan Kennedy at 393-0377 for further information.

Welcome to Our New Members!

Cead Mile Failte

Gerard & Suzanne Colligan
David C. Howe
Noeline Morrissey
James & Clare Murrity
Nora Zilliox

For Newsletter Articles, Suggestions, or Comments:
Jim Smith, Editor
Comhaltas Newsletter
12 Webster Ct.
Newington, CT. 06111
(203) 666-0197



The following article is taken from The Illustrated London News, October 18, 1845.
THE POTATO DISEASE.-- Accounts received from different parts of Ireland show that the disease in the potato crop is extending far and wide, and causing great alarm amongst the peasantry. Letters from resident landlords feelingly describe the misery and consternation of the poor people around them, and earnestly urge the imperative necessity of speedy intervention on the part of the Government to ascertain the actual extent of the calamity, and provide wholesome food as a substitute for the deficient supply of potatoes. Mr. John Chester, of Kilscorne House, in Magshole, in the county of Louth, in a letter to the Dublin Evening Post, states that he has a field of twenty acres of potatoes, which, up to the 3rd instant, had been perfectly dry and sound, when they were attacked by the blight, and three-fourths of them are so diseased and rotten that pigs decline to eat them. This, he says, is the case all through the county of Louth. The Belfast News Letter has a still more lamentable account. It says, "We have abstained from occupying our space with the accounts of the prevalence of this calamity in various places, for this reason, that it may be here stated, once for all, that there is hardly a district in Ireland in which the potato crops at present are uninfected-- perhaps we might say, hardly a field."



Lyrics to an Irish Song written by Peter Jones about the effects of the Famine on his family. One-hundred and thirty years after his great grandfather left the small village of Kilkelly in Co. Mayo, Peter Jones found a bundle of letters sent to him by his father in Ireland. The letters tell of family news, births, death, sales of land and bad harvests. They remind the son, that he is loved, missed and remembered by his family in Ireland. The final letter informs him that his father, whom he has not seen for 30 years, has died, the last link with home is broken. Peter Jones used these letters to make this song.

Recorded by Moloney, O'Connell & Keane on "Kilkelly" (1988)
Copyright Green Linnet Music 1983.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 60, my dear and loving son John
Your good friend the schoolmaster Pat McNamara's
so good as to write these words down.
Your brothers have all gone to find work in England,
the house is so empty and sad
The crop of potatoes is sorely infected,
a third to a half of them bad.
And your sister Brigid and Patrick O'Donnell
are going to be married in June.
Your mother says not to work on the railroad
and be sure to come on home soon.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 70, dear and loving son John
Hello to your Mrs and to your 4 children,
may they grow healthy and strong.
Michael has got in a wee bit of trouble,*
I guess that he never will learn.
Because of the dampness there's no turf to speak of
and now we have nothing to burn.
And Brigid is happy, you named a child for her
and now she's got six of her own.
You say you found work, but you don't say
what kind or when you will be coming home.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 80, dear Michael and John, my sons
I'm sorry to give you the very sad news
that your dear old mother has gone.
We buried her down at the church in Kilkelly,
your brothers and Brigid were there.
You don't have to worry, she died very quickly,
remember her in your prayers.
And it's so good to hear that Michael's returning,
with money he's sure to buy land
For the crop has been poor and the people
are selling at any price that they can.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 90, my dear and loving son John
I guess that I must be close on to eighty,
it's thirty years since you're gone.
Because of all of the money you send me,
I'm still living out on my own.
Michael has built himself a fine house
and Brigid's daughters have grown.
Thank you for sending your family picture,
they're lovely young women and men.
You say that you might even come for a visit,
what joy to see you again.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 92, my dear brother John
I'm sorry that I didn't write sooner to tell you that father passed on.
He was living with Brigid, she says he was cheerful
and healthy right down to the end.
Ah, you should have seen him play with
the grandchildren of Pat McNamara, your friend.
And we buried him alongside of mother,
down at the Kilkelly churchyard.
He was a strong and a feisty old man,
considering his life was so hard.
And it's funny the way he kept talking about you,
he called for you in the end.
Oh, why don't you think about coming to visit,
we'd all love to see you again.

* The "trouble" referred to in verse two is probably the Fenian rising of 1867.


A Connecticut resident was very impressed with the Irish dancing she saw demonstrated in Wisconsin's massive Milwaukee Irish Fest this year. She decided to go to the Meridan Festival where she heard the Mountain Laurel Ceili Band. The dancers that attended the ceili warmly invited her to join in on the dances and they walked her through the steps. Through these positive experiences she had at Irish festivals, she is interested in becoming a member of Comhaltas to learn more about Irish dancing.

In our area alone -- from the Stonehill College Festival, Fairfield Festival, North Haven Festival, Glastonbury Festival, and the newcomer Meridan Festival as well as the Feis competitions and concerts -- we are blessed with a wonderful assortment of entertainment and culture throughout the summer. Although this season's summer Irish Festivals are mostly behind us now, there are exceptions. A couple of the late-in-the-season festivals are well worth noting.

Danbury will be getting their feet wet this year with their first Irish Festival. Among the talent that will be there will be our local musicians with Music In The Glen as well as the popular Cherish The Ladies. This festival will be held on the weekend of September 24th. Details can be obtained from the Danbury AOH.

The other upcoming festival is not as much a festival as an extravaganza of Irish culture. Boston College is sponsoring GAELIC ROOTS II, a weekend filled with Irish workshops, performances, dances, and lectures on their campus in Chestnut Hill outside of Boston. This is a massive gathering of many of the talented and traditional Irish musicians. An active role is being taken by Comhaltas members in the Boston branch including their Chairperson, Larry Reynolds, and high-profile member Seamus Connolly, the Music Coordinator at Boston College. For advanced registration (before Sept. 20) or more information, call (617) 552-0490.

Festivals are an excellent way for our Irish culture to be displayed and encouraged. The purpose of our Comhaltas organization is to promote traditional Irish music, dance, and language. Our wonderful and varied selection of festivals and feis' are a tool that we, as members of Comhaltas, can demonstrate our rich heritage to individuals coming to enjoy these summer festivals.

One of the topics of our next CCE meeting on September 10 will be discussions on our festivals and how Comhaltas members can utilize them to promote our Irish Heritage. Your ideas will be welcomed.



The 34th Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival was held on the weekend of August 25 - 27. As always the festival had an impressive list including Bo Diddley, Tom Rush, Robin & Linda Williams, and many more. Again this year, our Comhaltas member, Roger Sprung was listed in the lineup.

It is wonderful to see our members get recognition for their talent. Roger Sprung, in spite of his busy schedule, still finds time to sit in on some of our Comhaltas sessiuns to maintain the strong Irish influence that is heard in his "Celtic-Bluegrass" style. Roger's group, the Progressive Bluegrassers, has released albums on his own label, Showcase Records.


A Comhaltas member was in a concert at Wolf Trap in Washington, DC this past March. Josephine McNamara, winner of the All-Ireland championship for singing in the late 50's and early 60's, was invited to perform at the St. Patrick's Day Concert on March 17th.

The two other groups that also performed for the St. Patrick's Day concert were Reeltime, a "turbocharged traditional Irish group", and Joe Shannon, the talented traditional uileann pipes player from County Mayo by way of Chicago.

Josephine McNamara's performance at Wolf Trap is one of the many ways she shows the true meaning of Comhaltas by keeping her Irish heritage alive through her love for traditional ballads of Ireland. Her dedication to the education of Irish culture was apparent when she ran workshops for Irish singing at the Comhaltas North American Convention in Tarrytown this year.


Jackie Reilly was recently named Hibernian of the Year at the Waterbury AOH club and was honored at a gala party in the AOH hall. Jackie has been a member of Comhaltas for many years and has been past President of the Ladies Division AOH. Both Jackie and her husband, Brian, are active in Irish circles. Mayor Mike Bergin presented Jackie with an award. Gov. Roland could not attend but sent a proclamation as well as Rep. Tom Conway and members of the General Assembly. Francis "Pop" Doolan, the AOH President, was the master of ceremonies for the presentation.


Dottie "McDonald" Arnauskas, a long-time member of Comhaltas, was recently honored in Waterbury as the "Mayor for a Day" on Saint Patrick's Day. The fire department Bagpipe Band escorted the dignitaries to the Church of the Immaculate Conception for mass. The procession then went over to the City Hall for the raising of the American & Irish flags where a speaking program was held. Dot was honored by Mayor Bergin, Gov. Roland, members of the General Assembly, and Congressman Gary Franks. This was followed by a reception hosted by Mayor Bergin. There were about 500 people in attendance. CCE member & past president, Mike Meehan, was the master of ceremonies.

As well as being a long-time member of Comhaltas, Dot has been past president of the Irish American Club, and a member of the AOH. She was described by Dick Mulligan, President of the Irish American Club, as "Mrs. Irish of Waterbury".


Membership Dues

Each November starts a new year for Comhaltas. Instead of a New Years Party this November 1st, each member can celebrate by sending in dues for the 1996 membership.

As a branch of Comhaltas we have a lot to celebrate. We have an ever-growing list of members who realize that our Irish culture -- rich in traditional music, dance, and language -- will remain alive because we are willing to continue to share this culture with others. We now have 198 members and Chairperson, Joan Kennedy, although delighted with each and every member, has promised a special surprise to the milestone two-hundredth member to join! She said the surprise will vary depending on whether the two-hundredth member is a new member or a not-to-prompt renewal. We'll have to wait and see.

More reason to celebrate! The dues for this year are still the same as last year; only $12 for individuals and $8 for spouse or each additional family member.

Even MORE reason to celebrate! Now it is easier than ever to pay your dues! A pre-addressed envelope has been included with this newsletter. Just enclose a check or money order to "Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann", put a stamp on the envelope, and mail it. If you prefer to show-off your own special envelope, the CCE secretary, Andrea, said she will be delighted to see your membership dues arriving in your own special envelope! Just mail it to:

Andrea Hogan, Secretary
Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann
145 Old Post Road
Northford, CT 06472



Dr. Tomás 'O Canainn on the uilleann pipes from University College, Cork.
Colette Finnegan is a singer/narrator from Kerry.
Debbie Garvey is a two-row button accordion player from Manchester.
Liz Gaughan plays fiddle and comes from Leeds.
Tommy Guihan is a flute player from Roscommon.
James Kinsella plays the button accordion and comes from Roscrea.
Marcus 'O Maoldomhnaigh is a banjo Player from Limerick.
Daire O'Neill is a concert flautist from Dublin.
Micheál 'O Runaí is a harpist and concertina player from Monaghan.
Pádraig Rynne is the talented fourteen-year-old concertina from Clare.


Frank from Derry.
Jonathan McMorrow of Sligo.
Niall O'Leary of Dublin.
Denise Ryan of Tipperary.


Patty Fallon: Fear a' Tí of Roscommon will again bless us with his wonderful wit and wisdom.
Stephen Conroy: Manager from Laois
John McElligot: Sound Technician from Kerry.

The 1995 Annual C.C.E. Concert Tour will include stops in Mineola; twice in New York; Boston; Manchester; Montreal; Ottawa; Toronto; Pennsylvania; Cleveland; Detroit; Chicago; Tallahassee; Panama City, FL; Pensacola; and St Louis.

This year's North American Tour will make its Connecticut stopover on Friday, October 13th at East Catholic High School, 115 New State Road, Manchester, CT.

The concert will begin at 8 PM. During the intermission there will be tapes for sale of the current concert tour and an information table for Comhaltas Members. This table will have application forms for new members and renewal slips for current members. This concert will be a great opportunity to encourage others to become members of Comhaltas. If you wish to volunteer to help at these tables, call Bob Carbery at (413) 584-7028 or Debbie Thompson at (203) 665-9013. The concert committee, headed by Bob Carbery and Debbie Thompson, has been working diligently to put the concert together and your help will be appreciated.

The concert committee has requested that anyone with access to church or club bulletin boards, radio bulletins, or other means to promote the annual event contact them or see them at the upcoming meeting in New Haven to arrange to pick up some promotional material.

Many people are working very hard to make this concert a huge success and any extra tickets that our membership can sell will be greatly appreciated. In this copy of the newsletter two tickets have been enclosed. Please help by selling these two tickets and then delight the committee by calling for more. For tickets or info (or to volunteer as a helper!) call Bob Carbery at (413) 584-7028 or Debbie Thompson at (203) 665-9013.

As a special bonus for all ticket holders an invitation has been extended to come to the Irish American Home in Glastonbury after the concert for refreshments and more music and dancing.

Our Best Wishes

-- To Helen Meehan, we hope you're back on the dance floor soon!
-- To Tom Higgins on his recent illness.

Our Sympathy

-- To Sean Canning on the death of his mother.
-- To the Stratton family on the death of their sister Anna Stratton.
-- To Michael Walsh on the death of his son James.


Irish Airs

Irish Radio Programs


Echoes Of Ireland
Tues. 6 P.M. - 8 P.M.
88.7 FM Radio; WNHU.
Hosts: Joan & Pat Kennedy;
John O'Donovan & Pat Hosey

Music Of Ireland
Thurs. 6 P.M. - 8 P.M.
88.7 FM Radio; WNHU.
Hosts: Tom Faherty

Music of Erin
Sat 10 A.M. - 11 A.M.
990 AM. Radio; WNTY
Hosts: Peter Guinan & P.J. Tierney

Irish Hours
Sat 11 A.M. - 1 P.M.
730 A.M. Radio; WACE
Hosts: Jim & Peg Sullivan

Healy's Irish Program
Sun 10 A.M. - 12 P.M.
1490 A.M. Radio; WACM.
Hosts: Don & Sheila Healy.

Ceol Na Gael
Sun 12 P.M. - 4 P.M.
90.7 F.M Radio; WFUV
Fordham University

Thistle & Shamrock
Sun 3 P.M.
90.5 FM Radio; WFCR
MA Public Radio, Amherst
88.5 FM Radio, WFCR

Ceili House
Monthly - TBA
88.7 FM Radio; WNHU.
Hosts: Joan & Pat Kennedy


Wear your CCE Curry-Seery Branch logo on these polo shirts in your choice of colors and in sizes to fit everyone. At only $23.00 these make a nice gift idea with All Hallowed Day right around the corner followed by Christmas. Joan Kennedy is in charge of sales and has generously offered to sell larger quantities at two for $46.00 or three for $69.00! To order, complete the following information and mail it with your check made out to "CCE" to:

Joan Kennedy, 41 Peck Lane, Bethany, CT 06524


Size: small, medium, large, x-large

Color: white, blue, green, maroon, yellow, black

Name: ________________________________________________
Phone: ( ______ )______________________
Note: For multiple orders, please specify size and color for each shirt.

Paul Curry/Jim Seery Branch 12
145 Old Post Road
Northford, CT 06472
(203) 484-2655

Joan Kennedy
(203) 393-9377

Tom Walsh
(203) 828-5902

Andrea Hogan
(203) 484-2655

Bob Carbery
(413) 584-7028

Public Relations
Neil Hogan
(203) 269-9154

Past Chairperson
Michael Meehan
1982 - 1993

Treorai na Gaeilge: Joan Kennedy
Auditor: Mary Moritas
Chaplian: Father John Moran

Delegates: Deborah Thompson, Con Murphy, Helen Meehan . . .

Send comments or story ideas to Jim Smith, the newsletter editor. 


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