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Welcome - Failte Romhat!

When the translation is provided submissions to the blog will be published in both English and Irish. Please send submissions to the webmaster address shown at the very top of the blog. Please visit us often. This blog is the companion of the Ottawa Comhaltas website:

Beidh poist a fhoilsiú i mBéarla agus i nGaeilge nuair is féidir. Tabhair cuairt orainn go minic. Is é seo an blag an compánach an láithreán gréasáin Comhaltas Ottawa:

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The Trial of the Orange Order

The Thomas D'Arcy McGee Foundation with New Point Players (Ireland) and Limelight Group (Ottawa) Presented a new play by Anthony Russell. 

The Trial of the Orange Order

The Trial of The Orange Order in the Court of History is an historical and political fantasy, a drama that seeks to, as objectively as possible, examine the role of the Orange Order in the formation of modern Ireland and, to a lesser extent, Canada. The charge is treason; defined as the crime of betraying one’s country. 


The premise is that Lord Craigavon, James Craig (1871 – 1940), the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland is called from the grave to answer, in the Court of History, the charge that the Orange Order committed treason against Britain and Ireland. The prosecutor is John Mitchel (1815 – 1875), an unrepentant physical force republican from both Young Ireland and the Fenians.  Lord Edward Carson (1854 – 1935) who led the unionist opposition to Irish Home Rule defends the Orange Order against the charge of treason. Both Lawyers have returned from the grave for the occasion, to exchange ideas, 'facts', and prejudice with with and passion.


Thomas D’Arcy McGee (1825 – 1868), a former Irish rebel who became a founding father of the Canadian Confederation is called as a witness, for the defence - as is the murdered Mrs. Elizabeth Crozier, from farming stock in Ulster.

All of the ghosts are aware of what has happened in both Ireland and Canada since they entered the grave.


This play offers a superbly engaging dimension to the play, in which it sees the audience debate the issues in the play as jurors in the jury room! This facilitates a participate role for the audience enabling them to deliberate on the issues as presented by prosecution and defence, as well as voting on the final outcome, just like in a real trial. Therefore the ending may be different in each performance!!

This play follows on from the Trial of P. H. Pearse in the Court of History which entertained and engaged audiences on both sides of the Atlantic as it examined the use of the gun in Irish politics.

Cast and Crew

John Mitchell - Donal O'Hanlon
Lord Edward Carson - Sean Treanor
Sir James Craig, Lord Craigavon - Pat Mooney
Thomas D'Arcy McGee - Gerry O'Connor 
Mrs. Crozier - Diane Russell
The Court Clerck - Damien Fannon (Ottawa)
The Judge - Jammes Leal (Ottawa)

Playwright - Anthony Russell
Director Donal O'Hanlon
Musical Director - Gerry O'Connor
Project Coordination - Tommy Fegan

The drama was commissioned for the Thomas D'Arcy McGee Summer School in Carlingford, August 2017.

In Ottawa the play was performed at the St. Brigid's Centre for the Arts.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

2017 Canadian East Region Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Music Hall of Fame

Robert (Bob) Francis MacDiarmid 

(Harp of Tara Branch, Kingston)

Last October  14, 2017 in Ottawa was the Canadian East Region AGM. Many members of the CCE branches across the East Region of Canada came to Ottawa for the meeting. As is usual, at the AGM, a person is introduced to the region's Music Hall of Fame. This year the honour was bestowed on Bob MacDiarmid.  The actual text of his induction to the Hall follows.

It is with great pleasure that the region is inducting Robert (Bob) Francis MacDiarmid into our Music Hall of Fame.

Bob was born in Ottawa in 1953. His father was of Irish heritage. Bob left home at an early age to seek his fortune in the world. He worked at various jobs across Canada as a longshoreman, construction worker and IT specialist.

In Edmonton he met Angeles (Angela) Garcia, a medical resident. They would marry and begin their lives together, living in Edmonton and Spain before settling in Toronto and beginning a family, raising two sons, Allan and Victor.

It was in Toronto where Bob's interest in all things Irish took hold. He began attending sessions, learning to play the fiddle and attending set dancing classes with Maureen Mulvey-O'Leary.

In 1995 Bob and Angela moved to Kingston where Angela set up a medical practice and began teaching medicine at Queen's University.

Bob became a stay home dad looking after their large home and grounds and carrying out a lot of renovations to it.
In Kingston Bob became active in the Comhaltas Branch serving as chair at one time and the PRO where he still serves the branch.

Bob Initiated the slow session in Kingston 20 years ago and still runs a very active weekly slow session. Having been hooked on set dancing in Toronto, Bob and Angela also started set dancing in the back porch of their home, were we still dance from fall till summer.

In 2004 Bob hosted our first house concert in their living room with Maeve Donnelly performing to a group of about 50 people.

Since then there have been over 50 house concerts in Kingston, all but one in Bob and Angela's house. He organizes the concerts, usually with workshops, and most times billets the performers, all with no charge.  Kingston has seen the likes of Blackie O'Connell, Draoícht, Diorama, Paddy Keenan, Patrick Ourceau, Jackie Daly, Gerry O'Connor, and many others play in a small intimate venue and it would not have happened without Bob and Angela. Bob has also hosted an annual weekend workshop with Patrick Ourceau and Ivan Gough.

Perhaps his biggest undertaking has been the production of the Kingston Irish Slow Session Tune Book. This is a very carefully researched and well-presented two volume set of tune books including historical notes, background material and the tunes themselves. It is a world class project and Bob completed virtually everything himself and has made it available for download at no cost.

Bob has been instrumental in keeping the Irish Music scene alive in Kingston for over 20 years with the slow sessions, house concerts and the tune books. He is an active and key member of the Harp of Tara branch despite that his wife Angela is  now suffering from a severe, debilitating, incurable illness.

No one is more deserving of induction into the Music Hall of Fame than Bob and it will be nice for Angela to see this take place.

Congratulations Bob on an honour well deserved and welcome to the Music Hall of Fame.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

2017 Arnprior Irish Weekend

Arnprior 2017

Arnprior: faoi dheireadh, tháinig an chéad imeacht sa bhliain (scoile) sa “chamchuairt” na Gaeilge anseo i gCeanada.
Bien qu’on a hâte aussi de visiter la Gaeltacht (le Gaeltacht? selon les règles canadiens ce serait masculin parce que Gaeltacht termine avec une consonne, mais d’après l’Hexagone, tous les emprunts sont masculins, il me semble) pour l’Oireachtas et la semaine d’immersion pendant l'été. En outre, Kingston tiendra leur propre fin de semaine en mois d'avril, soit le premier fin de semaine d'immersion irlandaise planifié au Canada. Aux États il y aurait quelques uns avec et des autre associations ainsi.

This year’s Arnprior experience probably stood out most for its strong youth representation with great support from the ICUF scholars from the University of Ottawa and Concordia University. By the way, the University of Ottawa Celtic Studies Program (whose students have recently relaunched the Celtic Studies Club wiith a GAA session and a pub night with more to come) as well as from Montréal’s Comhrá group (see links below). All in attendance highly appreciated the supportive atmosphere that the members of the Irish community fostered to allow learners and fluent speakers to practice their Irish.
An mhéad sin spraoi ag daoine ag an chéilí mór.

Bígí linn an bhliain seo chugainn! 

Don’t miss out next year! Rumour has it Toni and Dara have an even more outrageous skit planned. Next year's dates are: 28-30 September. We will have even more workshops, singing, music, good meals, and Gaeilge (of course)! We are also aiming to get a Facebook event page up for next year's Deireadh Seachtaine so you can share that with your Gaelic friends from all over the world (keep in contact with us to get news of any changes and other Irish-language weekends).

University of Ottawa Celtic Club:
Comhrá Montréal:

Text from: 

Monday, 9 October 2017

Chair's Report - Annual General Meeting 5 Oct 2017

Chair’s Report on Branch Activities for the period

Sept 2016 – Sept 2017

Administrative Summary

  1. The Branch-year for activities commenced in September 2016. 
  2. The Branch AGM was held 6 October 2016. C. Hamm was elected to Chair, changing from Acting Chair. All previous members of the executive were returned with the addition of Danny Doyle (Irish officer) and Beckie Ewald (Youth officer). 
  3. Carol Ann Bowers and Oscar Mou attended the Eastern Canada CCE Regional AGM in Sudbury in October. We agreed to host the 2017 Regional AGM in Ottawa. 
  4. The Executive met every month, save for Dec, June, July and August. 
  5. On March 29 the branch changed its public-facing name to Ottawa Irish Arts. This was done to improve outreach to non-Irish in the community. The branch’s legal name did not change. All feedback has been very positive. 
  6. A member survey was undertaken, asking members to indicate their opinion as to whether the Ottawa Branch should remain in CCE. The response rate was about 50%, and the poll was split about 50/50, and the matter was dropped. 
  7. Oscar Mou (Public Relations officer) published a monthly newsletter each month, including summer months. Dedication and diligence! 
  8. Patricia continues to maintain our large website which requires frequent updating throughout the year, and continues to provide content to the Branch blog, and manage the Twitter account (@ottawacce) which is growing in followers. Our thanks to G. McFee who continues to donate funds, covering the cost of the domain hosting.

Summary of Branch Events

  1. Monthly ceilis (Except December and May). The January to March ceilis were enthusiastically attended by many young people, making up for a slow autumn ceili season. We are indebted to the band (lead by Elizabeth Scarlett) and all callers (Carol Ann Bowers, Caitlin Crockard, Danny Doyle, in no particular order). Lisa Wright, and Oscar Mou, often work the bar and Oscar typically does the 50/50 draw. Carol Ann Bowers also arranged entertainment portions of the ceilis on several occasions. The table arrangement was altered to a U-shape, opening up the dance floor along the hall’s length, dispensing with the two-section model. 
  2. Monday night instruction in language (4 levels) and dance (set and step) were reasonably well attended. We are very appreciative of our teachers for sharing their time, skills, and for their dedication. 
  3. The March dinner-dance (12 March) was enthusiastically attended by 130 paid entrants, which we believe is a record over the past 3 or 4 years. We are indebted to long time, dedicated, member, Toni Forsythe who arranges for the main dish to be prepared. The Ambassador’s wife and children attended the ceili and had a grand time. (While the Ambassador was invited in December, it is understood his calendar is fully booked in March with state duties.) 
  4. Patricia attended, for the Branch, the Rose of Tralee Selection the day after the ceili. There was no Ottawa Rose this year.
  5. On March 14, master fiddler Matt Cranitch and legendary accordion player Jackie Daly wowed the audience at a Branch sponsored concert (Culture Ireland sponsor travel and accommodations). 
  6. As is the custom members of the Branch executive attended the Irish Ambassador's St Patrick’s Day reception, held at the official residence. It was the inaugural occasion for the new ambassador, His Excellency Jim Kelly. 
  7. In late March, PA and CH attended the entire Irish Film Festival Ottawa, and co-sponsored, with the Irish Society, and Caint as Comhrá  a film in the Irish language (DANCE EMERGENCY/Damhsa na hEigeandala, Dir. Deirdre Mulrooney). 
  8. Oscar Mou organized two Irish Trivia nights, held at Paddy Bolands Pub, and also produced a Branch wall calendar, sold at minimal profit, as an outreach mechanism. A limited supply of 50 were made and sold out quickly. No small amount of effort by Oscar to pull all this off. 
  9. Over the summer we were slightly more busy than usual. On June 16 (Bloomsday), myself, P.Avendano, Danny Doyle, Oscar Mou, and guests Mary Muckle (harp), Pat Marshall (harp), Tim Robinson (pipes) spent the day (and lead up days, preparing) at the Ottawa Irish Arts booth at the "Ireland Welcomes the World" day at the Landsdowne park Horticulture building. The estimate was about 4000-5000 people came through over about 12 hours. It was clearly the best public outreach the Irish community has had in many years, that was not St. Patrick’s. 
  10. On August 2nd there was a spectacular concert at St Brigid’s Centre, Kildare Room, with Pierre Schryer, Dermot Byrne, and Adom Dobres. Special guests included several locals and the Schryer brothers. It was billed as a joint Old Sod and Comhaltas effort, and we got recognition for that (I helped arrangements with St. Brigid’s Centre for the hall, Patricia staffed the cd sales, which were vigorous). 
  11. Patricia and C.Hamm attended the exhibit opening, in the Byward market hosted by the NCC and the Irish embassy, "The Irish Diaspora in Canada: A History." We met the incoming 2nd Secretary at this event, Laura Finlay. 
  12. Patricia and C.Hamm attended the Welcome Reception at the ambassador’s Residence for the 2017 Eastern Regional GAA Championship participants. We met the incoming ICUF Scholar, Sheila Concannon (we had said farewell to the previous scholar Kate Jordan earlier in the summer at a reception held by Margaret Moriarty). 


Most of CCE Ottawa's instruments continue to be used by members, and the branch over the past year acquired new members interested in learning these instruments. The harps are the most popular, but there is always somebody interested in the uilleann pipes, they are usually on loan. It is worth noting that from past loans, one student has purchased their own uilleann pipes, and one has purchased their own harp for continued study.

While we are due some criticism for lack of a Branch session, it has been difficult to find a leader, and let it not be said that we are not contributing to the furtherance of Irish traditional music through our activities, as highlighted herein.

Votes of Sympathy

Branch member, Laurie Kelly, wife of Pat Kelly, died suddenly while visiting Ireland with Pat on Aug 30. Patricia and I attended the funeral reception, and left a card on behalf of the branch.

Carol Ann Bowers, on the death of her father. 

Bridget Guglich for the death of her husband.

Respectfully submitted,

C. Hamm
Chairperson || Cathaoirleach

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Chair's Corner - Notes from the Ottawa Irish Arts (CCE Ottawa) Chair, September 2017

Over the summer we were slightly more busy than usual. On June 16, myself, the Irish Officer (D. Doyle), the PRO (Oscar), the Social Media Officer (Pat), and guests Mary Muckle (harp), Pat Marshall (harp), Tim Robinson (pipes) spent the day (and lead up days, preparing) at the Ottawa Irish Arts booth at the "Ireland Welcomes the World" day at the Landsdowne park Horticulture building, which was also Bloomsday! The booth was prepared with instruments, Troir samples, Danny’s book on the Irish language in Canada, cds and sheet music for sale, the trifold, and up to date pamphlets. 

There was a lot of interest in the harps, the language, and interest in our events. The estimate was about 4000-5000 people came through over about 12 hours. It was clearly the best public outreach the Irish community has had in many years, that was not on St. Patrick’s, which tends to get more attention for partying. It was very successful and I hope that the outreach is noticed at our events.

On August 2nd there was a spectacular concert at St Brigid’s Centre, Kildare Room, with Pierre Schryer, Dermot Byrne, and Adam Dobres. Special guests included several locals and the Shryer brothers, who had not played on stage together for many years. It was well attended by about 100 people. It was a fundraiser for Pierre’s brother Dan, whose house was destroyed by fire earlier in the summer. The Old Sod Society provided most of the advertising, and got many people to come. It was billed as a joint Old Sod and Ottawa Irish Arts effort, and we got recognition for that. 

OIA was also invited to the exhibit opening in the Byward market hosted by the NCC and the Irish Embassy, "The Irish Diaspora in Canada: A History." It was also Liz Keogh’s last event as the 2nd Secretary of the Embassy. We bid her and Niall a fond farewell. Her new posting is in Limerick. We also met the incoming 2nd Secretary. at this event, Laura Finlay.

I attended the Irish ambassador's residence reception for the 2017 Eastern Regional GAA Championship participants, where I met the incoming ICUF Scholar, Sheila Concannon (we had said farewell to the previous scholar Kate Jordan earlier in the summer at a reception held by Margaret Moriarty).

Sadly, Branch member, Laurie Kelly, wife of Pat Kelly, died suddenly while visiting Ireland with Pat on Aug 30 at age 75. Patricia Avendano and I attended the funeral reception, and left a card on behalf of the branch. The branch made a donation to the St. Patrick’s Home of Ottawa Foundation.

Respectfully || Le meas,

Craig Hamm 
Chair || Cathaoirleach

Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Irish Diaspora in Canada: A History

August 17 to 27, 2017, The International Pavilion, 7 Clarence Street, Ottawa
Release from the Irish Embassy:

In this landmark year for Canada, the Embassy of Ireland is proud to present an exhibition celebrating the strong and deep bonds of friendship that Ireland and Canada have long enjoyed, as part of the National Capital Commission’s series of Confederation Pavilions.
We are delighted to commemorate the important, positive contribution that the Irish in Canada have made to the fabric of Canadian life as we know it today, through the stories of Irish personalities from the time of early European settlement onward. Visitors will explore the history and vibrancy of the Irish community in Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the southern border to the Arctic.

These stories tell about Irish people who provided labour for the physical infrastructure of Canada’s canals, railways and roads, and who were also central to the creation and development of Canada’s political and civic institutions, through their involvement in law, politics, journalism, literature, religion, trade, the military and exploration.


“We welcome this opportunity to partner with the National Capital Commission, as we reflect in this commemorative year on the story of the warm and historic friendship between Ireland and Canada. Irish people have come to Canada since the early days of European settlement, and continue to be welcomed today as skilled workers and students, on business, or as visitors. This exhibition illustrates the Irish contribution to Canada through a selection of their stories.”
—His Excellency Jim Kelly, Ambassador of Ireland to Canada

“The National Capital Commission is delighted to welcome the Embassy of Ireland to the International Pavilion at 7 Clarence Street, as part of Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations. Visitors will appreciate this special exhibition celebrating the shared history of Ireland and Canada, highlighting the enduring friendship between our countries.”
—Dr. Mark Kristmanson, Chief Executive Officer, National Capital Commission National Capital Commission Confederation Pavilions

To celebrate 150 years of Confederation, the National Capital Commission identified some of the Capital’s most distinctive, but underused buildings, and set out to find inspired partners to breathe life back into them. The International Pavilion at 7 Clarence Street is a contemporary building that is part of a much larger restoration project in and around the Tin House Court in the ByWard Market. Today, it hosts diplomatic missions that exhibit and promote the best of their culture, commerce, ideas, values and traditions.

Photo courtesy Ottawa Irish Arts

Photo courtesy Ottawa Irish Arts

Photo courtesy Ottawa Irish Arts

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

A celebration of Ireland in Canada as part of Ottawa 2017: Press Release


( Visit the Ottawa Irish Arts Booth at this spectacular event! )

A celebration of Ireland in Canada as part of Ottawa 2017

Ottawa Welcomes the World: Ireland

Friday, 16 June 2017; Horticulture Building, Lansdowne Park, Ottawa; 10:00 am to 10:00 pm

In this landmark year for Canada, the Embassy of Ireland, together with Irish community organisations across Canada, is proud to present a celebration of the deep and strong bonds of friendship that Ireland and Canada have long enjoyed as part of the "Ottawa Welcomes the World" series of free events at Lansdowne Park.

Ireland is delighted to showcase a day-long programme of Irish music, dance, and theatre. A warm Irish welcome awaits visitors as they take an exciting journey through Ireland's stunning scenery, and explore the vibrancy of the Irish community in Canada, taking in Gaelic sports, film, and crafts along the way. 

June 16 is Bloomsday, the day on which James Joyce's celebrated novel Ulysses is set and which is observed annually around the world. Visitors are invited to meet some of his characters, find out more about Joyce and his work, and enjoy some Joycean music and excerpts.

The children's programme includes a wide range of interactive activities for all ages. Families will have the opportunity to listen to our resident story‑tellers, learn about some traditional crafts, and try some Gaelic football and hurling, as well as to learn some phrases in Irish and some dance steps, or how to play some Irish music.

Embassies and high commissions will showcase their country's culture in a series of world‑class free events at Lansdowne Park. As part of the Ottawa 2017 signature event series, more than 75 countries and international partners will celebrate their culture through food tasting, musical celebrations, artistic performances and more! This celebration of Canada's diversity and rich multicultural heritage will promote and strengthen ties between nations on the occasion of Canada's 150th anniversary. For more information, visit

Follow us @IrlEmbCanada, #Ottawa2017
Contact: Elizabeth.Keogh @

Until next time / Go dtí an chéad uair eile!