Aoife Trench Ballydonoghue/Lisselton CCÉ

Being a member of the Macalla na hÉireann tour group this last year has without a doubt been one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had with Comhaltas. I accepted the offer last summer extended to me by Bernard O’Sullivan, learned the tunes and arrangements put together for us by producers Cian Kerins and Niamh O’Sullivan, and dutifully costumed up for our photoshoot with Ina Doocey above in the Cultúrlann, where rehearsals took place prior to heading off on our 14-day tour of Ireland. October came. I had been granted time off work, my bag was packed, and my fiddle restrung. Excitement coursed through every vein.

Performing a 3-hour show every evening for 14 nights in a row is certainly no joke, and I have a renewed appreciation for professional musicians since this undertaking! Over the 2 weeks, we ascended the stage in Monkstown, Mullingar, Gurteen, Omagh, Drogheda, Cavan, Emyvale, Letterkenny, Westport, Ennis, Templeglantine, Kilcummin, Cashel, and Clontarf. I’ll leave it up to you to calculate that mileage! It was no bother of course to our amicable and accommodating bus driver, John.

There were many things that stood out for me while travelling Ireland (and, in February 2019, England) as part of the tour group. I quickly overcame feelings of stage-fright I had battled with for years; of course, when there’s a concert to be performed every night, one isn’t long getting over themselves! As well as this, our hard-working tour manager, Eddie Murphy, was always quick to introduce me to someone at the end of a concert who knew my mom, Karen Walsh Trench, or my grandfather, Jackie Walsh, both of whom are active in Kerry Comhaltas. Making these connections was very meaningful for me.

As mentioned previously, our humble little tour group gained international status when we toured England in February of this year. Over the course of the week, we entertained in Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Settle, Leeds, London, Leamington Spa and Milton Keynes. We were received very well by the British audiences, who no doubt appreciated being visited by “the best young musicians, singers and dancers Ireland has to offer” (Eddie’s words, not mine!)

What I enjoyed most about being on tour, however, was being in the company of such fun and talented people, most of whom have since become my close friends. You’d think being packed together on a bus, scrambling to get ready in pokey dressing rooms, and having to laugh at the same jokes every evening on stage would be enough to make us sick of one another, but I can happily announce that no friendships were harmed in the making of the Macalla na hÉireann tour!

To conclude, I would like to thank everyone who supported the concert tour in any way, shape or form, especially those who came to Kilcummin and Templeglantine to cheer me on locally as the Kerry representative.