Clonmany Ceili Band

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Here is the Clonmany Ceili Band before taking part in one of their many competitions in Derry.

The band was established in 1957 from the local dance hall in Clonmany. It became the band of St Mary’s Hall and played a mixture of traditional, ceili and modern music.

But it wasn’t until the new priest in the Inishowen town saw the band’s talent that the popularity of the band really took off.

Fr Desmond Mullan came down from Derry to be a curate in Clonmany, and with him he brought his love for music and especially traditional ceili bands.

Clonmany man Maeliosa Doherty made the transfer from a popular band in St Mary’s Hall to Fr Mullan’s ceili band:

“Fr Mullan came from Derry and he was big into the idea of ceili bands,” said Maeliosa.

“At the time the Derry feiseanna had ceili bands competing with one dancer on stage. We often travelled all over Donegal and Derry to try out in these competitions. It was great craic.”

The band were busy throughout the 1950s and 1960s playing for crowds mainly locally in Inishowen, but there was several occasions when the band had the opportunity to travel further afield. Maeliosa remembers one occasion which stands out.

“Myself and the lads were asked to play at a Glenvar Irish College one summer for one of their ceili dances.

“It was great fun altogether, in fact we probably didn’t appreciate it as much as we should have at the time, but we really enjoyed the craic.”

The band came to a natural end in the late sixties, but over the decades the band entertained people from all over Donegal and featured a bunch of talented musicians, who kept the music alive and involved people from all sections of society.