Well said, Caoimhin. Is it too much to hope that the present
kerfuffle might cause a re-assessment of Mr. O/ Murchu/
*within* Comhaltas? Probably, alas; and in any case that's
an internal matter for an organisation to which I do not belong.
I think some of the surprise felt by non-Irish list members at
the sentiments expressed so far in this debate may be because
Comhaltas abroad is a rather different beast - at least in my
limited experience of America, Australia and France. Perhaps
too easily, the analogy comes to mind of the Catholic church in
Ireland, where it is the dominant religious force, compared to its
less triumphalist position in other countries - but I don't propose
to pursue that analogy, or I'll be here all day. What I mean is
that where it is a minority cultural organisation, with no self-
perceived role as the guardian of Irishness against the awful
threat of liberal modern immorality (etc., etc.), Comhaltas seems
to work quite well, and its officals seem less inclined to a
culture-police mentality than their Irish counterparts; though
need I say (perhaps I do) that I have met many fine Comhaltas
people in Ireland too.
Comhaltas's claim, via Mr. O/ Murchu/'s report, to be *the*
vital organisation in Irish traditional music life makes no sense
to me. None of the people I play with are members, and the only
way in which Comhaltas impinges on our musical existence is
when there's a fleadh on nearby - and if we go to the fleadh at all,
it's just for the sessions which occur on the fringes, not for any
of the official activities such as competitions or concerts. It
would make no difference to our musical activity if Comhaltas
were to disappear in a puff of smoke tomorrow.
I hope that the recent call by The Joint Committee on Heritage
and the Irish Language for opinions on Irish traditional music
will be answered by many people.