UntitledArds Comhaltas, established 1 July 1976, is a non-profit organisation formed to promote and foster the love of Irish traditional music, song and dance to people from all backgrounds in the North Down / Ards areas and further afield.

About Ards Comhaltas

David Lennon, Vice Chair of Ards Comhaltas, introduces the involvement of Ards Comhaltas with Friends of Columbanus, Bangor.

When I joined ARDS CCE over three years ago, I was keen to put Columbanus to the fore. I designed the new logo (three saints in a boat) and suggested we record a CD. With funding from my fellow partners, we produced a first CD, Shores of Strangford.

Next, Ards CCE was booked to play Aviles Spain, associated with Columbanus through having a protected beach on which legend says he ran aground on the back of a whale. The idea grew that, like Columbanus, Ards CCE was bringing music and words to Europe and, although Columbanus never actually went to Spain, we featured him on the festival poster. If only Bangor had protected beach too.

Following success in Spain, I suggested recording The White Dove CD. I wrote the song, which won a medal at the all-Ireland fleadh, and has aired on several radio programmes including BBC world service and BBC Ulster Downtown radio.

The Ards CCE Folk Festival has been running for two years. With its logo to the fore, it was a natural progression to rename the Festival, ‘The Columbanus Cross-Community Folk Festival’. Before this, Bangor had hosted the county fleadh so the festivals had kept the momentum rolling. We have recently had a massive boost on hearing that Bangor will host the 2016 Ulaidh Fleadh (Ulster Festival) and, during my presentation to the Ulster Branch, Columbanus was highlighted as a draw for Europeans: we intend to focus on him .There have already been tee shirts, stickers, and posters issued during previous events.

ARDS CCE has been, of course, centrally involved with the now annual Bangor Abbey Columbanus Celebration concerts, most recently in November 2014 to great acclaim. Chair of Friends of Columbanus, Bangor, Kenneth Irvine,  has already booked the entertainment group for November 2015.

UntitledOur latest tour was to New York over Saint Patrick’s Day 2015. Our hosts used our ‘three saints’ logo as the back drop to the major concert, and I took great delight in telling the 600 strong audience who Columbanus was and the importance of Bangor in world history!

Our next event is the 2015 folk festival[1], which has an exciting timetable of cross community events in and around Bangor town. The Ulster Fleadh will bring upwards of 80,000 visitors to Bangor, many of whom will be coming for the first time. It is expected that, because of the facilities on offer, families will make a holiday of it over three to four nights. Participants from all sections of the community are invited to take part. Adding to the usual programme, fifes and lambegs will feature , Scottish dancing , Ulster Scots  performers. This is festival making history just as it did with the county fleadh. With all sections contributing under the banner of Columbanus and Bangor, light of the world, I am certain we will achieve wonderful things,

Looking forwardAfter the festival, Ards Comhaltas travels Bobbio to play for 4 days and nights. We cannot wait for the privilege of performing at the basilica. [picture of the basilica) We will also be adding to the collective CD featuring music from France, Italy etc.

ARDS CCE has up to 80 musicians turning up for classes each Saturday… It is totally cross-community and has a number of all Ireland, Ulster and County champions. Find out more on our Facebook Page.

Link to the festival programme

ARDS CCE on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ards.comhaltasceoltoirieireann?fref=ts