SENIOR All-Ireland céilí band All-Ireland Fleadh winners don’t come easily and, having scored twice in 1983 and again in 1985 with the ‘Pride of Erin’, Lack, Fermanagh scored again on Sunday night at this year’s All-Ireland Fleadh in Sligo with the Knockmore céilí Band.
Six of its members are local, and the other four are from Tyrone.
Three winners since competition began in 1951, and the uniqueness of the achievement was not lost on Bernie McNulty, the chairman of Fermanagh CCE.
“There were 15 in the competition, and you’re talking about a tough, tough competition”, she told the Herald.
“The competition started at 7pm on Sunday night, and Knockmore ended up on the ‘gig rig’ at around midnight. The national winning céilí band gets to play there, and it marks the finish of the fleadh.”
For Maggie Maguire, from Boho, the leader of the Knockmore céilí Band, it was a case of success at last following previous disappointments.
She reminded Sonny McDermott, Roslea, who is a member of the national executive of CCE that he had advised her after losing out in Tullamore, ‘to keep at it’.
Sonny, a highly respected figure in the movement, saw them perform at Sligo and was impressed.
“You would have a good idea, but it’s like winning an All-Ireland at Croke Park, you just don’t know until the referee blows the whistle.”
For Maggie Maguire, winning was, one of the best days of my life’: “Unbelievable. First-class. It definitely was. Yes, getting together for practice was hard, but I think everybody wanted to put in the work this year, and that made it a bit easier. Everybody had the determination to win it.”
Fermanagh can also lay part claim to another winner, Michael Curran, from Fivemiletown. He won the ‘senior box’, succeeding last year’s winner, Christopher Maguire from Boho.
Now a member of the Clogher Valley branch, he was previously a member of Roslea branch.
And, Fermanagh came close in a number of other categories.
12-15 Button Accordion John McCann, 3rd (Lisnaskea CCE)
15-18 Duet John McCann and Ciarán Owens, 2nd (Lisnaskea/Derrylin CCE)
15-18 Mens singing in English Gareth Maguire, 2nd (Derrylin CCE)
Over 18 Melodeon Martin Treacy, 3rd (Botha CCE)
Over 18 Ladies singing in English Julie-Ann McCaffrey, 2nd (Derrylin CCE)
Newly Composed song in English Julie-Ann McCaffrey, 3rd (Derrylin CCE).
The members of the Knockmore céilí Band are – Maggie, Christopher and Lorena Maguire, Boho; Aisling McPhillips and Kieran Leonard, Enniskillen; Maria Connolly, Newtownbutler, and Tomás Quinn, Ronan Warnock, Ciaran Hanna and Michael Kerr, Tyrone.
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