Portglenone Fleadh 2007

Portglenone Comhaltas branch hosted their eighth County Antrim Fleadh which was held from 18th to 20th May 2007. The main focal point of the Fleadh organisers this year was to celebrate our founder members down through the ages. The branch was born in October 1973 and was cared for by the caretaker group consisting of Colm O'Brien (in whose house the first meeting was held), Ann O'Brien, Matt McAteer, Edith Spiers, Brian Quinn and Willis Patton. Progress was constant and highlights were numerous in the Branch's development. Members went on to win competitions at County, Ulster and All Ireland level; the Branch was featured in a T.V. programme. Donncha O Dulaing made a radio broadcast involving the members; an article by Matt McAteer was published in "Treoir" in 1974 giving details of an end of year session held on board the "Maid Of Antrim" as it sailed from Portglenone Quay to Lough Neagh and back to an eel supper at "The Wild Duck", with Tony McAuley and Len Graham among the 80 plus who crammed the boat.
On Friday 27th April, the Fleadh Committee recreated this special moment in the Branches history with the newly refurbished "Maid of Antrim”, now owned locally by Mr Con Law, making a comeback and sailing up the Bann with musicians and special guests such as the O’Brien, Lowry and Weir family members, well known accordionist, Tommy Doherty and some of the founding members of the Portglenone CCE Branch such as Brian Quinn, Matt McAteer and Edith Reid (nee Spiers) and many other distinguished guests on board to commemorate the work done over the years.
So came the weekend of the 18th - 20th of May and with it came some fantastic music. After the official launch by County Chairman, Mr Eamonn Graham, the Fleadh was off and running with a group of past and present tutors of the Portglenone CCE Branch including Dympna and Ciaran McDonnell, Brian McCart, Kieran Convery, Siobhan McCormack, Emer and Una Graham, Catherine and Grainne Magill and James Kearney.
After them came Maureen Quinn (nee McCrystal), Maureen McGlone and Friends. Unfortunately for Maureen and her group the heavens opened. The crowd watching where washed away but thanks to Castle Stage Hire, Maureen and the group where spared the drenching and produced a stunning array of traditional sets.
To follow this, there was a virtuoso performance by Raymond Rankin along with Aine O'Brien, immediately followed by the O'Brien Family and Friends who rounded off the opening concert in the middle of the town with a terrific set of tunes. As 10pm loomed the concert was brought to a close and everyone was invited over to the GAA Hall for the opening night Ceilí.
Saturday's competitions kicked off sharply at 10am and continued to after 6pm. Once again, there was a large number of competitors from all over the County of Antrim taking part, all vying for the various Antrim titles being bestowed on the day and the chance to participate at the Ulster Fleadh. In conjunction with the Fleadh competitions, the 'Gig Rig' was aptly put to good use with the majority of the local County Antrim Comhaltas branches taking their turn and playing live to the large crowds who were braving the showery conditions. Many thanks also to the local Bellaghy CCE branch who offered their services and played some fine sets on the stage with Hugh and Laura at the helm. Many of the pubs obviously where put to the test all day due to the damp conditions outside, but they coped bravely with the large volume of visiting musicians up for a session. This pattern continued until the wee small hours where you could still hear a tune or two coming from the likes of the GAA HAll or Pat's well after the witching hour!
Sunday loomed with a few tired faces but the momentum was much the same as the previous couple of days and off they went again with music from the young Comhaltas members this time on show on the 'Gig Rig'. Rasharkin CCE, followed by the young musicians from Portglenone CCE. Then Cushendall and Ballycastle CCE members and finally the Belfast branch members took to the stage in what was now a brighter day and one which was staying rain free.
To finish the days proceedings, and of course take advantage of the fairer day, a few ceilí dancers took to their feet in the open street and were soon joined by many others to form a couple of great ceilí dances watched and cheered on by a large and appreciative audience who deserve full credit for sticking out the weekend and braving the elements early in the weekend. They were certainly blessed with this great display of Irish culture of music, song and dance right in the middle of Portglenone's Main Street in 2007's County Antrim Fleadh Cheoil.
For more Photographs of the Antrim Fleadh 2007 in Portglenone Click Here.