Celtic ceilidh a fit­ting trib­ute to a great man

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

It al­ways makes me feel spe­cial when some­one emails me out of the blue to tell me about an event be­ing held in Toronto that I might wish to at­tend. When Den­nis McVeigh, for­merly of Do­min­ion and fel­low past res­i­dent of Ocean View, emailed to tell me about a celtic ceilidh be­ing held to hon­our Fr. Leo Camp­bell, who passed away on Valen­tine’s Day in 2008, how could I say no?

Fr. Leo also grew up on “ The View,” as my friends and I liked to call it, but moved away to On­tario to serve as a priest, teacher and ad­min­is­tra­tor in var­i­ous aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions. In my mind, he was a larger-than-life fig­ure, a man of the cloth who could daz­zle you with his ser­mon as well as his mu­si­cal abil­i­ties. I re­mem­ber well an out­door mass he held on our street, fol­lowed by a mas­sive bon­fire with singing and gui­tar play­ing. He was cer­tainly the life of the party and has been sorely missed by all who knew him.

I was happy to hear that Sandy McIn­tyre and his band, Steeped in Tra­di­tion, would be play­ing at the event. Sandy grew up in In­ver­ness and now per­forms and con­ducts fid­dling work­shops through­out Canada, the U.S. and over­seas.

I used to be a fairly fre­quent vis­i­tor to the Sun­day af­ter­noon “Cape Bre­ton Mad­ness” par­ties where Sandy and his band played at the now-closed Bow & Ar­row pub on Yonge Street. The Celtic ceilidh has since moved to Fionn MacCool’s Ir­ish Pub on St. Clair Av­enue. I was a bit sad to see that the “Bow” had closed down, given that I had en­joyed many a pint there, and even had a sur­prise 30th birth­day party thrown for me in their up­stairs party room. Oh, to be 30 again! (sigh)

Need­less to say we had a great time at the ceilidh. The event was a memo­rial for Fr. Leo, but I can as­sure you there was noth­ing som­bre about it. If you knew Fr. Leo, you know this is just the way he would have wanted it. Stepped in Tra­di­tion played some rol­lick­ing good fid­dle tunes, there was some amaz­ing step danc­ing, and some great sto­ries told about the man him­self. Den­nis men­tioned the im­por­tance of get­ting “a dose of Cape Bre­ton” ev­ery once in a while to get you through the long stretches. I whole­heart­edly agree!

Plus, it was great to see folks I hadn’t seen in eons and meet some new ones. I was es­pe­cially shocked to see Johnna Camp­bell, niece of Fr. Leo who I hadn’t laid eyes on since she was a kid and I was prob­a­bly a teenager. It was lovely to chat with her, and we both agreed that our street was an awe­some one, but the re­cent ad­di­tion of the word “Cres­cent” to the end of Ocean View was com­pletely un­nec­es­sary and hard to re­mem­ber when ad­dress­ing let­ters home.

Our meet­ing af­ter so many years re­minded me of how quickly time flies, or rather, as Henry Austin Dob­son said in his mean­ing­ful quote, “ Time goes, you say? Ah no! Alas, Time stays, we go.”

At the end of the night, every­one joined hands to sing, “ We are an is­land, a rock in the stream…” I left with a smile in my heart, hav­ing thor­oughly en­joyed a fit­ting trib­ute to a great man, and a lovely dose of Cape Bre­ton.

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