FOUR decades ago the centenary of St Flannan’s College was commemorated with an album of traditional music featuring some of the best of Clare’s musical talent.
The album was originally issued on cassette in 1981 and marked a peak in the success of traditional music at the Ennis school, buoyed by the folk revival and the growth of the Fleadh Cheoil movement through the ‘70s.
Now in 2023 that album has been remastered to its original pristine condition, and it will be relaunched this weekend at a very special concert.
The relaunch of the classic trad music album St Flannan’s Céilí Bands Reunion takes place in glór on Sunday, January 22.
A nostalgic night is in store, bringing old musical comrades back onstage together, who haven’t met for 40 years – and they will share the limelight with the college’s current crop of trad music talent.
By the early 1970s, the traditional music revival in Clare had brought many young musicians to St Flannan’s.
Determined to foster this talent, Fr John Hogan, himself a fine fiddle player, organised the first College Céilí Band in 1970. The baton was soon taken up by Fr Joe McMahon and later Fr James Grace.
This album gives a sample of the musicians and bands who contributed to that early successful era, during which u18 All-Ireland CB titles were won in 1971, ’76, ’78 and ’79.
The cassette was first issued in 1981 to mark the centenary of the college. Now it has been remastered onto CD for posterity with the help of Matt Purcell of The Stables studio in Tulla.
The album features artists who represented St Flannan’s in solo and band competitions at the Fleadh and Slógadh from 1973 to 1981 and appeared at concerts all over the county.
Many of them kicked on from their stage and studio experience with the college and built subsequent musical careers which brought them round the world in the following decades.
The album includes early-career solo items from Noel Hill (concertina), Paul Roche of Stockton’s Wing (flute), Tony Linnane (fiddle), Peadar Cleary (vocals), Eamonn Cotter of Shaskeen (flute),
Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin (uilleann pipes) and Dermot Lernihan (accordion) who in 1981 had already become artists of note. The Céilí Band tracks also include many younger musicians whose careers flourished later on.
A bumper attendance is expected in glór on Sunday to welcome back and to celebrate the veterans as they perform some of the tracks and to support and applaud performances of the current crop of musicians and singers who are being coached by Ms Rooney, Ms Vaughan and Mr Shannon.
Proceeds from the launch event and the CD sales will go towards purchase of instruments for St Flannan’s music department. Tickets available from www.glor.ie.