Ceoltóirí Chnoc na Gaoithe recently undertook a ten day visit to South Africa as guests of the Ambassador of Ireland to South Africa, Mr Liam MacGabhann, to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and Irish week.
The multi-talented group of musicians, singers and dancers performed at Embassy events in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone,T.D. was the guest of honour at the official Embassy events.
A full and varied programme of events was organised by Embassy Second Secretary,Louisa Heneghan, and Tulla native Paula Nolan, Head of Development – Development Specialist with the Irish Embassy in Pretoria.
The programme includes performances at the three main St. Patrick’s Day official events in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town as well as visits to townships to undertake community work, provide dance workshops for the township dance schools, collaborating with the students at the Sibikwa Arts Centre to create an Irish/South African Musical Fusion. They group travelled to Soweto to perform with the Soweto School of Music as well as challenging the local South African Gaels GAA club to a game of gaelic football and hurling.
During free time the group visited visit Pilansberg Safari park and Table Mountain before returning home on 19th March.
The musicians travelling were drawn from the band Out The Gap and members of the Cnoc na Gaoithe Senior Céílí Band and include Fergus Bogue (accordion), Pamela Queally ( fiddle), Gearóid McNamara ( piano, tin whistle and concertina), Amy McNamara (fiddle) and Kevin Carey (flute and drums) and Kate McNamara ( concertina). They are joined by four hugely talented Irish dancers, Elisha Coleman and Matthew Gillespie from Lord of the Dance with Ciara Jennings and Micheál Fogarty who have travelled to China with the group on previous occasions, Micheál is also a talented traditional and folk singer.