Michael Davitt (Swinford)
Chairperson Barbara Uí Fhogarthaigh
Secretary Maureen Noone
In September 1959, John Nestor (barber) hosted a meeting to form a Comhaltas Branch, but the seeds of this branch had been set many years earlier. A group of young men began Céilí Dancing classes in the Town Hall in Swinford in 1951. These men, Brian Rowley, Caoimhin Campbell and John Durkan, were later joined by Seamus O’Mongain. Large crowds attended these classes and learned traditional dances such as ‘The Siege of Carrick’, ‘The Walls of Limerick’ and ‘The Haymakers Jig’. Musicians included Andy Price and ‘Greenwood’ Convey on flute and Joe Peyton on Fiddle.
The classes lapsed for a year or so, but were revived in 1958 and were run by Sean MacNioclais, Colm Cartuir and Seamus Ó Mongain. Musicians playing for these classes included Tommy Rowley and Michael O’Boyle. Monthly Céilí’s with big name bands, e.g. Leitrim Céilí Band Kilfenora and Johnny Pickering were held in the Town Hall. This group of enthusiastic young men together with Padraig Gavin, John Nestor, Paddy Forde (Kiltimagh), Tom Kavanagh and Ray Lambe organised Sessions in houses and schools all around the Swinford area. Their sessions included music singing traditional céilí and some sets.
Pub sessions were held regularly, e.g. in Padraig Horkans. Musicians like Jim Moran Michael Horkan and Jimmy Murphy met to play, joined by Fred Finn and Peter Horan.
All of this activity led to the decision to formally set up a Comhaltas Branch and attract a Fleadh to Swinford. Those present at that first meeting included Ray Lambe (chairman), Sean MacNioclais, Padraig Gavin, Seamus Ó Mongain (Secretary), John Nestor (treasurer) and Colm Cartuir.
The Branch which began that night is still active today.