Sunday 20 October 2019

Mighty seisiún gets Shandrum groups tuned up for the big fleadh

Mike McGrath's Charleville

The strains of traditional Irish music echoed from Freemount's Heritage Centre last Wednesday night as it has done each August for the past 18 years in the North West Cork village, which is a Mecca for lovers of the traditional genre, and the forerunner to the annual All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil, which this year, is on in Drogheda.

The Freemount seisiun series started in 2001 and from the beginning the event was an outstanding success. In the early years the local community centre was the venue for the musicians, and the those early successful sessions set the tone for the future. This meant that there was a seamless transition to their new venue, when the village's former national school became available to the committee and was renamed the Heritage Centre, some years ago.

Many of the original committee that started the Freemount branch of Comhaltas Ceolteoiri Eireann in the village in 1983 are still active in the committee today, such as Betty and P.J. O'Sullivan, Mary Coleman and Mary Noonan. Indeed, all four were busy on last Wednesday night doing the various jobs necessary to ensure the smooth running of the top-class traditional fare provided each week of August.

"We are trying to improve the experience for our patrons each year and this time we have installed CCTV so that an overflow attendance from the main room can watch what is happening on stage via close circuit television," said P. J. O'Sullivan.

"We also have erected a protective canopy where we can serve teas at half-time in the programme," he continued.

The annual seisiun is now firmly established in the social calendar of the IRD Duhallow area and enjoys the support of the Newmarket based Leader Group featuring in their summer programme of events in the area.

Their guest of honour last Wednesday night was the Buttevant music maestro Alan Finn, the leader and tutor of the fabulously successful Shandrum Ceili Band. Alan is a teacher in the Freemount branch and this year will have his Munster Comhaltas champions, the under 12's Crossfields Ceili Band, likewise his under 18 Crossfields Ceili Band are Munster champions, as will the senior Grupaí Cheoil all competing in the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil in Drogheda next week. They will be representing the Freemount branch of Comhaltas and keeping the Cork flag flying in Leinster.

The three times All-Ireland Fleadh winners Shandrum Ceili Band, led and tutored by Alan Finn will, of course be headlining in the Dome in Drogheda at the Fleadh during this week.

The Shandrum will also be playing a concert for a local launch of their Boss Murphy Music Legacy CD at St. Nicholas' Church in Churchtown on Saturday 24th August next to bring to an end the village's official celebration of the 150th anniversary of the building of their parish church.

This promises to be a fantastic night of music an entertainment and should not be missed. It gives local people the opportunity to acquire a unique CD of traditional music from their own place, drawn from the Boss Murphy Collection, which rivals that of any other area in Ireland.