Four-in-a-row for All-Ireland winning céilí band
A north Cork céilí band has made Fleadh Cheoil history by winning a record four All-Ireland titles in a row.
The feat, never previously accomplished by a céilí band at any age level, was achieved by the Freemount-based Crossfields Céilí Band, who lifted the under-18 trophy at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.
The band, with members drawn from within a 10-mile radius of the village, represents Craobh Chróná in branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and is under the instruction of Alan Finn.
He put their consistency at the top level of youth céilí band competition down to the young musicians’ dedication.
“They play with great heart in the music and they’re not playing for medals - they play to enjoy it,” he said.
“If a medal comes, it’s great, and if not, they’re still playing music outside of that. They wouldn’t be medal-hungry.”
Finn is well used to Fleadh Cheoil success, having recently led the Shandrum Céilí Band to three-in-a-row All-Ireland glory at senior level, as well as teaching Craobh Chrónáin’s under-15 champions.
But whereas a winning senior band is automatically qualified for the next year’s final, under-age groups must start from scratch each year and qualify first at county and then provincial level.
“It makes it hard because Munster is such a strong competition,” said Finn, who said the band members’ long experience of playing together had been crucial to their success. “Some of them would have played together ever since they were under 12s; a lot of them would have won an under 15 All-Ireland, and some would have done threein-a-row under 15 as well.”
A fourth consecutive title, however, is unique.
“The four-in-a-row had never been done in any band competition, under 15, 18, or senior.”
The possibility of achieving the record feat, though, was not allowed to dominate the youngsters’ preparations for this year’s competition.
“I didn’t mention the fourin-a-row to any of the band members,” said Finn. “They knew, but I didn’t want to put them under pressure.”
The Crossfields, comprising Shane Curtin on accordion, Hannah O’Flaherty (fiddle), Emma Moynihan (flute), Darragh O’Shea (banjo), Ciara Hartnett (flute), Darragh Two- mey (piano), Anna Buckley (fiddle), Leah Murphy (fiddle), Marie O’Neill (concertina), and Rónán Buckley on drums, will still have seven of their current members aged under 18 for next year’s Fleadh and with a steady stream of young talent coming through the ranks in Freemount, the signs are “hopeful”, says Finn, for a tilt at five-in-a-row.
The Crossfields Céilí Band, who won their fourth All-Ireland under-18 title in a row at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Drogheda.