President of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann completes three- year term

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Being President of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann for the past three years has been an honour and privilege for me and on the first weekend in May, I will complete my term.

Comhaltas has a membership of over 3 million, with over 450 branches on four continents and 15 Countries. The organisation is concerned with the preservation and promotion of Traditional Irish Music, Song, and Dance, as well as encouraging use of Gaeilge.

During my three years in the ‘Hot Seat’, I have visited events in many counties in Ireland, as well as a very large number of towns and cities here in the UK, and in New York, Parrsipany New Jersey, San Antonio Texas, and Washington DC in the States. The amount of work, that is taken up by volunteers, for Comhaltas, Community and Ireland is incredible. Concerts, fleadhanna, socials, awards, meetings, ceili, music sessions, song sessions, festivals, and education. Comhaltas, is an important corner stone of many villages, towns and cities throughout Ireland, and many parts of the world.

In my position in Comhaltas, I have met many high profile people, politicians, and musicians, singers and dancers. Several meetings with Uachtarán na hÉireann, Michael D Higgins and the previous president Mary McAleese. On two separate occasions I have chatted to Enda Kenny, as well as meetings with TDs such as Paudie Coffey, Brendan Smith who is a Comhaltas man through and through.

I have met MEP’s Lynn Boylan, Liadh ni Riada, Matt Carthy, Martina Anderson, along with Martin McGuiness Deputy First Minister of the Northern Ireland assembly and minister Carol ni Chuilinn. Theresa Villiers, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland actually attended one of the Comhaltas summer schools. Comhaltas is politically very well positioned. TD Jimmy Deenahan Minister of State for the Diaspora, never shy’s away from highlighting and praising the work of Comhaltas.

In March 2014, along with Anne Tighe (The Spotted Dog pub Digbeth and St. Patrick’s festival), I attended Buckingham Palace to be formally introduced to The Queen and Prince Philip. A great honour.

During my Presidency there have been three All Ireland Fleadhs. Cavan Town, Derry City and Sligo City. All three fleadhanna were very successful with over 320,000 visitors attending the venues t each Fleadh. 30% of those visitors were between the ages of 18 and 30 years, a statistic that dulls the view that traditional music, song and dance is for old people.

There is no doubt in my mind that being elected to the lofty position of Uachtarán of Comhaltas is a reflection of the Birmingham Irish Community, of whom, I am very proud. I hope I have represented that community well, along with Comhaltas, and Ireland.

On Wednesday 25th February 2015, I attended the European Parliament in Brussels to receive on behalf of Comhaltas the prestigious European Citizens Prize, which had been awarded to Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann. A wonderful end to a magical three years.