“If I said they were putting something in the water about Crossmaglen, people might begin to think, “He could be on to something there!” as I can’t ever recall so much success – in sport initially – and now in music and song, coming from a small town like ours!”

These are the musings of Pearse McMahon, the Music Teacher at local Comhaltas Branch CCE An Bonnán Buí who, along with his wife Tracey and her sister Sinead Conway have helped the children who attend the classes at St. Patrick’s Primary School every Tuesday, excel at the recent Fleadh events in Keady and at Ulster level in Bangor.

The club’s members managed to secure five Gold Medals, a Silver and a Bronze in the competitions they were entered in, an unprecedented accomplishment for such a small club which will no doubt grow in strength and numbers when word of their conquests spread.

According to music director Sinead Conway, “I would say our strength at this time is that our numbership is small and this means the teacher is able to focus more on individuals for longer periods in the class. I think we’ve been a bit more organised this year too which has been a big help and I feel a debt of gratitude is owed to St. Patrick’s School and Michael’s Madine and in particular Deirdra Ogle who has been a fantastic help behind the scenes”.

Pearse og McMahon

The All Ireland Fleadh in Ennis will see five of the Crossmaglen Branch representing Armagh, namely Pearse Óg McMahon who won gold in the U12 Button Accordion and U12 Men’s English Ballad Singing, Iarla McMahon who won Gold in U15 Tin Whistle, Tiarnan Conway who won Gold in U15 Men’s Irish Ballad Singing and Bronze in U15 Men’s English Ballad Singing, Niamh Daly who won Gold in O-18 Ladies English Ballad Singing and Pearse McMahon who won Silver at O-18 Men’s English Ballad Singing.

Fair mention should also be given to the Crossmaglen Branch members who also competed in Ulster but were unfortunate not to win Medals. Former Ulster and All Ireland winning Singer Dearbhla Daly sang remarkably well in the U15 section of the Ladies English Ballad Singing but was unlucky not to win the heart of a tough adjudicator, as was this year’s Armagh U12 Ladies English Ballad Singing winner Siofra Teelan who in a competition of twenty three singers was singled out by the adjudicator as an exciting prospect with great potential. A great honour indeed in only her first year at the Traditional Ballad Class of CCE An Bonnán Buí.

Tiarnan Conway

When asked about potential successes at the Fleadh music teacher Pearse would only say, “We are not even thinking about the All Ireland in Ennis and that’s the truth. At this stage, the children are prepared and it’s just a case of” It’ll be what it is!”

All our thoughts at this moment in time are about what an exciting year we have to look forward to. We are going to reintroduce the Ceili Band and are putting together a Ghrúpa Cheoil for our young members who performed so well at our Summer Concert. Sinead and I have already put together a booklet of tunes and a booklet of songs which will be given to the children who come and register with us at the end of this month. We’re looking forward to seeing a few familiar faces, and, with a bit of luck some new ones too.”

The All Ireland Fleadh takes place in Ennis from the 14th to the 21st of August. For more information on this event, competition results and other matters such as registration etc. at CCE An Bonnán Buí, Crossmaglen, go to their Facebook page for updates.

Siofra Teelan
Niamh Daly