Four in­ducted at Celtic Mu­sic Hall of Fame cer­e­mony

The Glengarry News - - News - BY STEVEN WARBURTON News Staff

“Celtic Glen­garry, thanks.” With those three sim­ple words, Gerry O’Neill re­ceived a standing ova­tion at the Glen­garry Celtic Mu­sic Hall of Fame’s 15th in­duc­tion din­ner, which took place Fri­day even­ing at the Bon­nie Glen Pav­il­ion.

Mr. O’Neill, who lives in Green­field, was one of four in­di­vid­u­als to be in­ducted into the hall that even­ing. His friend and fel­low mu­si­cian, Paddy Kelly, said in his in­tro­duc­tion that Gerry “was larger than life; no one could fill up a room like Gerry.”

Orig­i­nally from Ire­land, Mr. O’Neill em­i­grated to Canada in the 1970s be­fore even­tu­ally set­tling in Glen­garry county, where he quickly be­came an in­te­gral part of the area’s mu­si­cal fab­ric. His fi­nesse on the fid­dle made him a pop­u­lar mem­ber of many lo­cal groups – Fid­dler’s Choice, Fid­dler’s El­bow, McMartin Fid­dle – and, in­deed, was ad­mired by so many mu­si­cians that sev­eral of them made the trek to the Bon­nie Glen Pav­il­ion just to be with him on this date.

Although Mr. O’Neill’s list of past per­for­mances is an ex­ten­sive one – he’s played at the Glen­garry High­land Games as well as nu­mer­ous con­certs, dances, wed­dings and funerals – he was largely a spec­ta­tor

on Fri­day even­ing, watch­ing as friends paid trib­ute to him with a num­ber of late-night mu­si­cal per­for­mances, in­clud­ing a ren­di­tion of one of Mr. O’Neill’s trade­mark pieces, Hec­tor The Hero.

Mr. O’Neill wasn’t the only in­ductee to in­spire a per­for­mance dur­ing the ceilidh that im­me­di­ately fol­lowed the in­duc­tion cer­e­mony.

The St. An­drew’s- based High­land dance teacher Ellen

Cameron Maloney saw a large con­tin­gent of her own young dance stu­dents take the stage too.

Ms. Maloney was in­tro­duced by her friend, Jac­que­line Fraser, who wasted very lit­tle time laud­ing all of her danc­ing achieve­ments. As a dancer, Ms. Maloney won cham­pi­onships at the lo­cal, pro­vin­cial, and in­ter­na­tional lev­els. In her 46 years of teach­ing, she has pro­duced five world cham­pi­ons, 17 na-

tional cham­pi­ons, and more than 30 pro­vin­cial cham­pi­ons. On three dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions, she was hon­oured as be­ing the best teacher in the prov­ince and has even in­spired some of her stu­dents to open up dance stu­dios of their own.

In her ac­cep­tance speech, Ms. Maloney thanked her fam­ily for al­low­ing her to pur­sue her pas­sion.

She also paid trib­ute to the late High­land dance teacher

Rae MacCul­loch – who was in­ducted into the hall in 2004 - say­ing that it’s an hon­our “to be placed in the hall with Rae MacCul­loch, who was also a great teacher.”

There were two more in­ductees who were in­ducted posthu­mously.

One of them was Dun­can Alexan­der Mac­donell, who was in­ducted for nearly three decades of pro­mot­ing Scot­tish and Celtic mu­sic – a large part of it from his 19-year ten­ure as owner/ op­er­a­tor of the At­lantic Hotel in Alexan­dria. When the liquor laws were changed in the early 1960s, Mr. Mac­donell was among the first hotel operators to bring in live en­ter­tain­ment. The At­lantic quickly be­came a hub for mu­sic lovers; Mr. O’Neill cred­its him for be­ing one of the first pro­mot­ers of Celtic mu­sic in Glen­garry.

Mr. Mac­donell’s in­tro­duc­tion came from his grand­daugh­ter,

Leah Mac­donell, who says her grand­dad’s love of Celtic mu­sic in­spired her to learn to play the bag­pipes. She noted that she will be mar­ried this sum­mer in St. Raphael’s, which is where her grand­fa­ther was born and where he is buried.

“I know that Dun­can will be smil­ing down from above and that him and my an­ces­tors will be hav­ing their own Ceilidh.”

Dun­can Donald MacSweyn was also in­ducted.

Born in 1871 in the former Kenyon Town­ship, Mr. MacSweyn was re­mem­bered as a favourite singer at church so­cials, funerals, com­mu­nity con­certs, house par­ties, and fundrais­ers.

Dur­ing the tough years of two world wars, a de­pres­sion and count­less com­mu­nity tragedies, Mr. MacSweyn – known as Dun­cie – was a “bea­con of joy, help­ing the com­mu­nity stay strong through the preser­va­tion of the Gaelic song,” ac­cord­ing to the in­duc­tion cer­e­mony pro­gram.

Mr. MacSweyn was in­tro­duced by his great- grandaugh­ter, Tammy MacSweyn, who brought laugh­ter when talk­ing about how Dun­cie liked to travel ev­ery­where by horse.

“Grand­dad would have been hon­oured to be selected,” she said.


Just be­fore the in­duc­tion cer­e­mony took place, it was an­nounced that Sher­rill Trot­tier, who has been trea­surer of the Glen­garry Celtic Mu­sic Hall of Fame since 2003, is re­tir­ing from that po­si­tion.


IN­DUCTEES: Fri­day even­ing’s cer­e­mony at the Bon­nie Glen Pav­il­ion saw four new in­ductees en­ter the Glen­garry Celtic Mu­sic Hall of Fame. At left are Dwayne Mac­donell (ac­cept­ing on be­half of his fa­ther, Dun­can Alexan­der Mac­donell), Kent MacSweyn...


AN EN­TER­TAIN­ING EVEN­ING: Ellen Cameron Maloney’s High­land dancers pose for a pic­ture be­fore tak­ing to the stage for Fri­day even­ing’s Ceilidh, which con­cluded the Glen­garry Celtic Mu­sic Hall of Fame’s in­duc­tion cer­e­mony.

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