|A crowd of over 200 attended the free Concert given by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Ros Cré to mark the conclusion of their 50th anniversary commemorations and to launch their branch history entitled “Harmonies and Grace Notes” which was edited by Dick Conroy and has received great plaudits by the people of Roscrea and supporters of Ros Cré Comhaltas. The entertainment was provided by Junior and Senior Comhaltas groups with guest appearances from the Ann Callanan-Ryan school of Dance and the Roscrea Community Choir. The order of appearance was Junior Comhaltas members, Roscrea Community Choir the Ann-Callanan-Ryan School of Dancers and to close the night Senior Comhaltas members. Each group above gave approximately 20 minutes of a performance.|
Pictured at the launch of “Harmonies and Grace Notes” a book to celebrate 50 years of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Ros Cré are:
Front Seated L/R Donnchadh Ó Cinnéide ( Treasurer Co. Board) Éamon McDonald, Úna Ní Mhurchú, Labhrás Ó Murchú Ardstiúrthóir CCÉ, Mai Bn Uí Ciabhaigh, Mai Bn Uí Chinnéide, May Collins.
Back Row L/R George Cunningham, Pat Flanagan Ard Comhairle and Roscrea CCÉ, Muireann Flanagan, Noreen Brophy, Assunta Uí Chathasaigh (Secretary, Munster Council CCÉ) Nora Troy, County Board, Pat Loughman, Chairman Co. Board, Tim Maher, Chairman Roscrea CCÉ and Pádraig Ó Dubhfaigh Ard Comhairle CCÉ & Midlands 103
Included among the guests were Labhrás Ó Murchú, Ardstiúrthóir Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Úna Bn Uí Mhurchú, Pádraig Ó Dubhfaigh (Ard Comhairle CCÉ and Midlands Radio 3), Assunta Uí Chathasaigh (Munster Council), Pat Loughman (Chairman Tipperary County Board CCÉ), Donnchadh Ó Cinnéide and Nora Troy (Tipperary County Board).
Following the performance by the dance troupe, the formal launch of the book too place. The proceedings were announced by Fear an Tí, Pat Flanagan. Opening the proceedings branch chairman Tim Maher outlined the events of the past year undertaken by the branch by way of celebrating the branch’s 50th Anniversary. He then called on Dick Conroy, editor of the branch history book to speak.
Dick said it was an occasion of great joy to stand before the Roscrea Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann with the history of the organisation finally in print. Roscrea’s newest author said he was particularly delighted that so many people had showed up to mark the momentous occasion.
Dick proceeded to reflect on the history of the local group and said that from its struggled establishment in early 1962, Roscrea Branch of Comhaltas has continued in an unbroken line through good times and bad; finding itself today with its greatest membership of all time standing – idir Óg is Aosta – at over 200!
Reflecting on how the book came into being Dick recalled how in 2010 an appeal was made to the general public for photographs and other memorabilia from the past which would be used in 2012 as part of a proposed exhibition to celebrate the 50th anniversary of by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Ros Cré. Then in 2011 because Roscrea Branch of Comhaltas wanted to pull out all the stops to help commemorate the 50th anniversary of its foundation. A special committee was elected from among the branch members early in the year to plan for the event. This special ad hoc committee met frequently and for his sins Dick Conroy said that he was elected its Chairman.
Dick said that he enjoyed thrashing out ideas with his fellow committee members. Eventually they decided upon a number of achievable objectives and these were brought to a regular branch meeting for discussion where they were either approved, amended or discarded by the branch as a whole.
Production Team with the Ardstiúrthóir Ann Feehan, Dick Conroy Labhrás Ó Murchú & Kay Browne
Arising from this process Dick said that the branch then planned and executed these events through delegation where necessary. In this way he said that a whole year of celebratory events has been taking place – commencing with the launch of a calendar and the recognition of past officers on the 14th October 2011 and concluding with the launch of the branch’s history.
Dick Conroy reflected on how originally the book was planned to be published sometime around St. Patrick’s Day 2012 as it was thought that it would not take too much time to complete and would be a much smaller publication – running to no more than 100 pages! As time drew nearer to the planned launch, it became clear that the publication was taking on a life of its own and so its release was put back to the end of the year.
Dick said that it was probably always assumed that he would write the book, having produced all the branch’s publications since becoming a member in 2003, and so it came to pass. Dick said that not having a long association with Comhaltas created a few problems of its own especially at the start when he reflected a few times on his own sanity regarding getting involved in such a massive undertaking. In this respect Dick complemented a number of people that helped settle him down namely Kay Browne, Ann Feehan and Michael McEvoy.
Michael McEvoy accompanied Dick through some interviews and gained access to the Muintir na Tíre minutes while Kay and Ann did all the trawling through whatever annals were available – in particular going back through nearly a century of three local papers. Other sources used were the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann’s own magazine – “Treoir” – which is available online covering the years of 1968 – 1987, and hard copies held locally from there on in. Also while early minutes for the branch were not readily found, access was gained to the Tipperary County Board minutes going back to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Ros Cré’s foundation; and branch minutes were available from the nineties.
Dick said that thankfully there are still a few of the original founder-members alive and/or close family of early members around to tell some stories of those days. In the later years the local annual review – the “Roscrea People” – was available with its collection of submissions from various organisations including Comhaltas and its “review of the year” chapters proved a great source of validation and supply for the author.
As regards the actual writing of the book, Dick told those in attendance that this commenced in May 2011 with the compilation of some preliminary articles, interviews and narratives on the events that had occurred as part of the celebratory year. The work continued in earnest up until March 2012. At this stage Dick said he had to focus on preparations for the Tipperary County Fleadh Cheoil and the production of the Fleadh Programme meant that work on this book had to take a holiday. Once the Fleadh was over, work resumed. Although a preliminary proof of the first four chapters was available in July, it was in early September before the first complete proof of the book was produced.
The book took nearly two years work, it is 400 pages long, comprising of more than 130,000 words, laid out in chapters – one for each decade of the branch’s existence, with a special chapter on this year’s events. It contains more than 30 biographies and over 300 images. It gathers together in one place the various records available and makes a good foundation to build on with further study should anyone wish to delve deeper!
L/R Pat Flanagan (Ard Comhairle and Roscrea CCÉ, Dick Conroy Editor, Labhrás Ó Murchú (Ardstiúrthóir CCÉ) & Tim Maher Chairman Roscrea CCÉ
In conclusion Dick took the opportunity to thank all members of Roscrea Comhaltas and the public for their contributions; whether by way of articles, photographs, interviews or other memorabilia. Dick reserved a special word of thanks for the officers of Roscrea Comhaltas and particularly the members of the 50th anniversary committee for their tolerance and support throughout this milestone year. Finally Dick acknowledged the support of his family and in particular his wife Mary for all her help and support over the years.
Following Dick’s address chairman Tim Maher complimented Dick on his great work and his marvellous publication. Tim reflected on Dick’s great contribution to Comhaltas over the years and said that the local organisation in Roscrea was very lucky to have a member like Dick Conroy. The Chairman then called upon Ó Murchú, Ardstiúrthóir Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann to address the audience and formally launch the book. Referring to items from the book, an tUas. Ó Murchú was most complimentary on the scope and presentation of the material saying it was most professionally executed and a credit to the branch. He recalled his memories of some of the happenings of 1962, the year of the branch’s foundation and in particular his memories of the late Davy Collins. Finishing his speech he once again complemented Dick and the branch on producing the book and declared it officially launched.
There then followed a number of presentations – Chairman Tim Maher presented a copy of the book to an tUas. Labhrás Ó Murchú as a memento of the occasion. He then presented copies of the book to the two surviving founder-members Eamonn Stafford (the branch’s first Chairman and to Liam Shanahan representing his brother Pat (the branch’s first Secretary) who was indisposed and couldn’t be present.
Following the official launch, the audience was entertained by performances from the Senior Comhaltas Group. Following this performance, while photographs were being taken to mark the occasion, impromptu sessions started up at various locations throughout the hotel before coalescing into a major one in the foyer!. Well done to all concerned, particularly Dick Conroy whose book is now a major part of the social history collection of Roscrea.