Ayrshire welcomes…

Fabian Greenan

Ayrshire welcomes new Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Branch.

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann’s (CCE) mission is to bring together an inclusive community of all ages, who learn, share and experience the music and culture of Ireland. CCE’s vision is a world where Irish music is open to all, and celebrated as a valued part of Britain’s cultural heritage, keeping the traditions accessible and relevant in today’s society. This is the largest worldwide organisation devoted to the promotion and preservation of Irish Traditional Music, Song, Dance and Language.

In Britain there are 24 branches of volunteers spread throughout the country each with its own story and dynamic interpretation of Irish Culture.

The latest branch has been established in Ayr and will meet weekly on a Monday evening in Queen Margaret Academy, Ayr. Taking the form of beginner and intermediate lessons from 7pm – 7.45pm followed by a music session from 7.45pm – 9pm, the new group brings the opportunity for people to join as a community to listen, have the craic, sing songs, or pick up an instrument.

In 1951, CCE had been established in Ireland by passionate traditional musicians to teach and promote the music of Ireland, and had a growing network of branches. Six years later the first branch was established outside of Ireland, in Glasgow, closely followed by Liverpool, where a large community of immigrants had settled. They met in community spaces such as pubs, halls and schools.

Comhaltas in Britain, now a registered charity, grew through the settlement of Irish diaspora communities in the UK. As more people came to Britain in the 1950s to make a life for themselves, whether through choice or through need, a sense of belonging and community became incredibly important. Music became a tool for expression, belonging and an important coming together point, both between musicians, and non-musicians who attended sessions to hear the music played, and to spend time with their friends and family.

These communities of people playing music served a dual purpose of developing and teaching technical traditional skill, but also forming communities and providing reasons for people to congregate.

To promote and encourage people with an interest in traditional music to get involved and find out more the committee plan to host a number of events across Ayrshire in 2024. The branch is actively seeking venues where maybe there is already an interested audience or just groups looking for something different for their members.

If you’re interested in finding out more, come along on a Monday evening to listen, play, or just have a chat.