Fermanagh Ceili

By Pride Of Erin Ceili Band

Six comments

“The Pride of Erin Ceílí Band: Fermanagh Ceílí”

Outlet SOLP 1030
Belfast, 1977

This is another of the great recordings Outlet put out in its time. I hope someone rescues their catalogue and begins to re-release recordings like this. I have had the great pleasure of this bands music and the company of its members, great talents and generous and warm people. Here is the list of members for this particular recording:

Sean Nugent ~ fiddle, band leader
Margaret McElholm ~ singer
Rosemary McAloone ~ singer
Felix Kearney ~ fiddle
Francie Quinn ~ fiddle
Charlie O’Donnell ~ fiddle
Sean McCusker ~ flute
Bríd Donnelly ~ flute
Francie Murphy ~ button accordion
Mary MulHolland ~ piano
Paddy Colgan ~ drums

Between 1960 and 1977 the “Pride of Erin Ceili Band” had been declared Ulster champions on twelve occasions. Individual members have achieved many All-Ireland honours in competition. To give just one, Mary Mulholland had achieved three All-Ireland firsts in the same time… The band had appeared regularly on RTE’s “Ceili House” programmes and had also been featured on the North’s UTV and RTE, television.

The members of the band would like to pay tribute and dedicate this record to the memory of Packie Nugent (a founder member & Sean’s brother), who died in 1974. For many years Packie was an inspiration to the other members and they will long remember him as a gifted musician whose artistry on the fiddle enchanted all who heard him play. His love for his native music will long be an inspiration to those who continue his work. Ar Dheis De go raigh a Anam.

Recorded at Outlet Studios, Belfast
Produced by Billy McBurney
Sound Engineer: Cel Fav

Amongst the best gatherings for dance in all of Eire, in my memory, house and hall, were had in the North, Ulster… I miss the place, the musicians, the music and the people…

Apologies for this oversight and neglect, I had been checking on certain references and confusions of my own. I knew a number of Francies from the North/Ulster, fiddlers in particular, including Maraid’s father, and tended to confuse them at times. I had it in my head, was sure, that he had played with this lot last time I was there? 😏 It was a great variety of tune forms ~ including marches, highlands, polkas, mazurkas, barndances, etc, and great singing too…

My Grandfather

Thank you for this posting. My grandfather was Francie Murphy, the accordian player with The Pride of Erin Ceili Band. This is one of the first items I have found online about The Pride of Erin. I am so delighted to have found this page.

Jason Donaghy (County Fermanagh)

“Pride Of Erin Ceílí Band: Fermanagh Ceílí” - the flip side of this LP’s jacket

[On the reverse side of the LP sleeve is this track list, an intro to the band, photos of each of its members with short introductions, and the dedication given previously…]

SIDE A
1. - Reels: Johnny Cronin’s Fancy / The Castle Reel / Maid In The Cherry Tree
2. - Jigs: Cherish The Ladies / Cliffs Of Moher
3. - Reels: Cowley’s Reel ( Solo Flute: Bríd Donnelly ) / Preston’s Reel ( Piano: Mary Mulholland ) / Miko Russel’s Reel
4. - Hornpipes: Sean Ryans No. 1 / Sean Ryan’s No. 2
5. - Ballad: Lough Sheelin Side ( Margaret McElholm )
6. - Reels: Crib Of Perch / Dwyer’s Reel / Toss The Feathers
7. - Jigs: Tom Mulhair’s / Mulvihill’s Jig / Kelly’s Jig

SIDE B
1. - Reels: The Boy In The Gap / The Torn Petticoat / Lady Anne Montgomery
2. - Jigs: The House In The Glen / Tom Billy’s Jig / Reavy’s Jig
3. - Ballad: Dancing In Glenrone ( Margaret McElholm )
4. - Hornpipes: McMahon’s Hornpipe / The Blackbird
5. - Ballad: Maid Of Coolmore ( Rosemary McAloone )
6. - Marches: Magherafelt May Fair ( Rosemary McAloone ) / Kane’s Marches
7. - Slip Jigs: Hunting The Hare / A Drink Of Water / Back Of The Haggard

- the flip side of this LP’s jacket - continued - - -

The Pride of Erin, the band and it’s origins

The ‘Pride of Erin Ceili Band’ has its origins in Fermanagh and West Tyrone, that ancient area of South-West Ulster which includes lovely Lough Erne with its myriad islands and historic ruined castles. This beautiful land of legend, history and myth – this land of blue water, backed by ancient brown hills and hidden green glens where ever the place-names are pure poetry, has inspired music and song in its people for untold generations.

It is true that the character of a people is formed by the land in which they live, and that the music of those people in turn reflects that character. The Pride of Erin truly reflects the character of their land with its subtle blend of discipline and exuberance, the gaiety and the fleeting sombre moments. These contrasting moods can best be heard in their spirited rendering of the five-part jig “Cherish the Ladies” and the fine Fermanagh reel “Lady Anne Montgomery” on this record.

For generations the living tradition of music and song has thrived in this part of Ulster. Families such as the Nugents, Kearneys, and Quinns have preserved and nourished this tradition. They played the music and sang the songs, and indeed composed the music and the songs when the occasion demanded. The recently awakened national and international interest in our folk culture of music and dance has greatly encouraged this vigorous tradition and ensured that the younger generations will carry on the good work.

May they long continue to do so.
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The band has been in existence since before 1960. Some of the original members are still going strong – Francie Murphy, Felix Kearney, Sean Nugent, Mary Mulholland, and Francie Quinn. The late Packie Nugent – Sean’s brother – to whose memory this record is dedicated, was a founder member and an outstanding musician who is still sadly missed.

At Fleadhanna Ceoil the senior ceili band competition is always the focus of keen interest and friendly rivalry as it is acknowledged to be the premier event. Since 1960 the ‘Pride of Erin’ has been declared Ulster champion on twelve occasions. Individual members have achieved many All-Ireland honours in competition. Mary Mulholland has three All-Ireland firsts to her credit for solo piano. It would be superfluous to attempt to list the individual achievements of the members, except to say “Congratulations to you all.”

Since 1960 this band has appeared regularly on R.T.E. “Ceili House” programmes and more recently has featured on north UTV and RTE television.

In addition to this the ‘Pride of Erin’ has always fulfilled the primary function of a ceili band, getting the feet tapping. They have always succeeded at this and we think they have succeeded again. Listen carefully and decide.
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- the flip side of this LP’s jacket - continued - the musicians - - -

Pride of Erin Ceili Band
Meet the musicians – getting to know you.

Sean Nugent – fiddle – Leader of the band, Sean is the inspiration and the force which has kept the ‘Pride of Erin’ to the fore. He comes from a family which is steeped in the musical tradition and his home in Lack, Co. Fermanagh, is known to musicians throughout Ulster as one where there is always a welcome and where an impromptu session can be held.

Margaret McElholm & Rosemary McAloon – Margaret and Rosemary are daughters of Sean Nugent and have inherited the family talent. Both have a wide knowledge of Ulster ballads which they sing in the authentic Tyrone – Fermanagh style. At Fleadh Ceoil na hEireann Margaret has won the All-Ireland ballad competition, while Rosemary – who is the reigning Ulster champion – has been runner-up on five occasions at the All-Ireland Fleadh.

Felix Kearney – fiddle – Again of this same stock, he and Sean are cousins. Felix brings to his music a lift and vitality which is sure to get the feet itching to dance. Incidentally, his father – also Felix – is the author of “Dancing in Glenrone”, which Margaret sings on the record.

Francie Quinn – fiddle – Has a finely developed feel for his music. Francie plays with exquisite sensitivity and is a master of ornamentation. He and Mary Mulholland have won at least five Ulster championships at Fleadhanna Ceoil with duets on fiddle and piano.

Charlie O’Donnell – fiddle – The quiet man of the band who loves and lives for traditional music. His musical ability together with his wide knowledge of Irish music has earned great respect among traditional musicians.

Sean McCusker – flute – Sean is an accomplished performer on both the concert flute and the button-key accordion. He has a vast knowledge of Irish traditional music and is the source of many of the pieces played on this record. He acquired this love of music from his father, Packie, who also plays the button accordion.

Bríd Donnelly – flute – Born in 1961, Bríd is the most recent and the youngest member of the band. She is the current Ulster champion on both flute and whistle in her age group and has had many successes at Fleadh and Feisanna Competitions. Says she got her love of Irish music from Cathal McConnell (of Boys of the Lough fame), who taught her to play the whistle.

Francie Murphy – button accordion – Despite his youthful appearance, Francie is known by at least two generations of Ceili dancers as a master of the ‘Box’. He has been on the Ceili and traditiona music scene in both Ireland and England since the 1940s.

Mary Mulholland – piano – What superlatives can do justice in describing Mary’s virtuoso touch on the ivories? Te most recorded member of the band, she has accompanied such artists as Brendan McGlinchey and Jim McKillop, and is always in demand where Irish music is on the agenda.

Paddy Colgan – drums – Last but far from least, Paddy is without doubt the most important member of the band. With his accurate, restrained touch, which can become exuberant as the music requires, he sets the style of the band with a rhythm which sets the feet tapping.

The members of the band would like to pay tribute and dedicate this record to the memory of the late Packie Nugent, who died in 1974. For many years Packie was an inspiration to the other members and they will long remember him as a gifted musician whose artistry on the fiddle enchanted all who heard him play. His love for his native music will long be an inspiration to those who continue his work. Ar Dheis De go raibh a Anam.
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Front photo: Devenish Island, Lough Erne
Courtesy of N.I. Tourist Board
Recorded at Outlet Studios, Belfast
Produced by Billy McBurney
Sound Engineer: Cel Fay