On Wednesday 9th April 2014, Marie-Louise Huiban, the President of the Carhaix / Carrickmacross Twinning Association, led a group of Breton musicians and members of the Twinning Association on a visit to Carrickmacross for Féile Patrick Byrne, 2014. The twenty- six musicians along with their teachers had been preparing for this visit for the past twelve months and they took a full part in all the musical activities over the week-end.
The visiting group were welcomed to Carrickmacross by the local Twinning Committee, members of the local Comhaltas branch and their host families. P.J. O’ Hanlon, a member of Carrickmacross Town Council, welcomed the Breton visitors and hoped that their week-end would be enjoyable. He praised the organisers for developing the cultural links between the two towns and hoped that Monaghan County Council would continue to support such praise-worthy ventures. The president of the Carrickmacross/Carhaix Twinning Association, Sean Egan, also welcomed the group to the town and praised the Comhaltas branch for organising the Féile.
Marie-Louise thanked the Carrickmacross community for the welcome and said that she was looking forward to the concerts of Irish and Breton music as well as the other activities.
The two sets of musicians got together over the following days for workshops and practice sessions in preparation for the joint concerts.
On Thursday evening the musicians, along with members of both twinning committees and the general public, attended a concert in St. Finbarr’s Church. This was followed by the first joint “session” of the week in Markey’s. The concert on Friday proved to be one of the highlights of the visit with the Irish and Breton musicians showcasing their talents in the Holy Family Hall before a capacity audience. This was followed by an informal seisiún in the Valley Lodge.
We Banjo Three were the headline act for the concert on Saturday evening in the St. Louis Convent Hall. The support band, drawn from the Irish and Breton groups, set the mood for a night to remember with a rousing opening set. At the end of the concert, the local Corduff Pipe Band led the young musicians to Markey’s for the last session of the visit.
After a short few hours of sleep, the Breton group gathered at the Shirley Arms Hotel to get the bus for their trip back to Carhaix. The director of the music school, Frédéric Muhlhauser, was very pleased with the success of the visit and is looking forward to a return visit from the Carrrickmacross Comhaltas members in 2016.
Nine members of the Carhaix Twinning Association accompanied the musicians to Carrickmacross and stayed with local families over the week-end. They headed to Dublin on a day trip and also visited Newgrange, Monasterboice, Carlingford, Castle Leslie and other local historical sites.
Both twinning groups expressed their satisfaction with the success of the Féile week-end and they look forward to further exchanges in the future.