Guest of honour for 60th Anniversary of Comhaltas na Breataine at the embassy of Ireland was Labhrás Ó Murchú.
Despite storm Ophelia, Labhrás travelled from Cashel and managed to make it to London and told the audience that when he saw the tricolour blowing in the remaining 'Ophelia wind' and hearing the distant sound of Irish music “I knew I was at home".
Ardstiúrthóir (Head) of Comhaltas worldwide and a retired member of Seanad Éireann, Labhrás acknowledged that the expansion of Comhaltas throughout Britain is central to the story of Ireland at home and abroad maintaining its culture for future generations.
Reflecting on the Fleadh in Derry a few years ago he regaled the audience with an anecdote that as Irish people throughout the Island it is sometimes just flags that divide us but Irish people from different historic backgrounds share many of the some tunes and dances.
Ambassador O’Neill heralds a great future for Irish music, song and dance in Britain.Speaking at the Irish Embassy London on Monday October 16th Aiden O’Neill complimented the young British born people who have maintained a “connectivity to their home culture” by learning Irish music and dance from Comhaltas branches throughout Britain and he heralded them as being “ vital to the success of Comhaltas today”. He also traced the history of Comhaltas in Britain from its foundations in Glasgow 60 years ago and is rapid spread to the conurbations where Irish people settled.
Focusing on the local stories of success in Britain Michael Nevin (Cathaoirleach, Comhairle na Breataine) reminded the large audience/guests that in recent years three of the Presidents of Comhaltas Worldwide came from branches in Manchester, Luton and Birmingham. He made a profound point that people involved in promoting Irish traditional music in Britain are “ordinary people” and in reference to the young musicians from all over the UK who performed music and dance at the embassy, he described them to audience approval “as truly brilliant musicians”
Another highlight of the night was the launch of Pete Fawcett’s photographical chronicle of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann over 40 years. From a simple hearing of The Dubliners on Radio Caroline this self-deprecating ‘gurt lummox’ of a Yorkshire man has travelled to many a Fleadh in Ireland and Britain and now we have a permanent record of those days. With stories of the improvement is Irish Ferries services (to which we all concur) to escapades with his ‘banger’ of a Ford Anglia (we had one of those!) this book is a beautiful pictorial record and told by Peter in a witty and concise way. As a true photographer he introduces briefly in words and make space in his book to let the pictures tell the story.
We got to speak with Labhrás and he chimed "Tipperary is full of Molumby!” We complimented him and Comhaltas for reviving storytelling as part of Fleadh Cheoil since this year, and he asked who were our influences in storytelling? On hearing Eamon Kelly and Jack Glasheen, Labhráschuckled "I meet Jackie Glasheen often in Holycross."