Branch History (Stáir)
On the 22nd August, 2013, the following notice appeared in the Club notes of CLG Naomh Mearnóg “The Club is inviting any interested parties to join its proposed new Comhaltas Group. Further information from Tim Maher, Secretary, CLG Naomh Mearnóg.”
This came about as the result of some parents being present at a Scór Night in the club. Amongst others, The Clann Mearnóg Céilí Band played that night, and as a result a request from parents in attendance came, asking that in keeping with the cultural policy of the GAA could we facilitate the children of the club in the learning of Traditional Music.
A Meeting was called and the following people came: Noel Rooney, Tony Owens, Alice Owens, Neasa Ní Laoire, Tadhg O Meachair, Déirdre Ni Mheachair, Tim Maher, Aideen Cashman, Seán O’Leary, John Kielty and Conor Kavanagh, Chairperson of Naomh Mearnóg GAA Club. We arranged to meet with the Comhaltas County Board, with a view to setting up a branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. This meeting was held on the 27th August, 2013 which proved to very helpful and informative. As a result, a further meeting was held of interested people where it was decided to set up a branch of Comhaltas which would be known as CCÉ Port Mearnóg.
Our first Committee was formed which was as follows:
Chairperson:Tim Maher, Vice- Chairperson:Noel Rooney, Secretary:Neasa Ni Laoire, Treasurer:Ned Byrne, PRO:Tony Owens, Youth Officer:Déirdre Ni Mheachair, Oifigeach na Gaeilge:Conor Kavanagh. Committee members: Pauline Rooney, Don Murphy, Alice Owens, Elizabeth Byrne, Séan O Leary, John Kielty.
Our first enrolment night was the 2nd September, 2013 at 7pm in Áras Naomh Mearnóg. We then approached Robert Harvey, a young man of many talents, All Ireland Winner, A PhD Student, a performer, a tutor, and a member of Ciorras which was a band formed by Dónal Lunny and TG4. His brief was to help us to get our classes started and to give us advice as to how to progress. Quickly it became obvious that more tutors would be needed
Appeals were made through various outlets for donation of instruments, resulting in our being able to set up an instrument bank, which enables us to offer children the loan of instruments at a nominal fee. We were able to add greatly to our instrument bank through the running of three very successful fund raising concerts, featuring Goitse and The Dartry Ceili Band. A significant addition to the instrument bank was the acquisition of three harps, thanks to the most generous sponsorship of the Corbett Family in memory of their late father, a Comhaltas stalwart over many many years.
In July 2014, a Summer Camp was organised. The aim of the camp was to give the children partaking the opportunity to experiment with various instruments under the supervision of qualfied tutors. The week was filled with games, songs, instrumental work, arts and crafts and of course the end of week concert which was wonderful. Following it’s success a Summer Camp has been held each July since, thanks to the annual sponsorship of the DAA.
During the first year of the camp, two adult workshops, were also organised which resulted in a Senior Grúpa Ceoil being formed in the Branch. This Grupa has performed at the Dublin and Leinster Fleadhanna. A Junior Grupa Ceoil was formed with the aim of getting all the children playing together for fun and in 2017, we began the process of forming a Junior Ceili Band .
The Branch has visited Comhaltas Branches in both Port Laoise and in Ballinacargy, Co. Westmeath, as well as performing at Dublin Airport at Christmas 2016 and at the Naomh Mearnóg Gala Ball.
More recently, a Youth Group has been set up. This group has as an aim for 2017 /2018 to design a branch crest, and fundraise for Branch Hoodies. They would also like to have a monthly Session with both Junior and Senior Members taking part.
The Branch has currently in excess of 130 partaking in classes each Monday night.