Those of you who have been involved with Irish music and dance for some time are familiar with Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann (CCE), which translates to "Society of Musicians in Ireland." CCE is the primary Irish organization dedicated to the promotion of the music, dance and language of Ireland. Founded in 1951 by a group of Westmeath pipers concerned about the decline of Irish musical traditions, CCE now has over 400 chapters around the world. It also runs the annual Fleadh Cheoil, a national Irish music festival and competition.
Fleadh Cheoil, Ireland
In early 1979, a CCE chapter was formed in Milwaukee and the chapter was approved by CCE headquarters in Dublin and the appropriate rules, membership instructions, etc. were sent on to us by CCE U.S. Coordinator William McEvoy. The original officers of the Milwaukee branch were Pat Williams, John Maher, Jeff Keeling and me. It was the intention of this group to draw together local musicians, singers and dancers to organize and promote Irish music and cultural events. An effort would be made to coordinate the weekly Irish Ceili dancing sessions with traditional Irish musicians. Organizers also pledged to promote Irish albums and musicians and assist local Irish music lovers in finding music they enjoy. Membership dues were $1 a year and the branch met quarterly. Local membership in the Milwaukee branch grew to over 30 members at its highest points. John Maher and I atended the Midwest Region annual CCE conference in Oak Lawn, IL, in June 1979 with full voting rights. While the Milwaukee CCE chapter lasted only a few years, the goals and the objectives of the original organizers were clearly met. The efforts of these dedicated and passionate local musicians and dancers helped keep Milwaukee on a trajectory to one of the largest celebrations of Irish music and culture in the world.
Ed Ward founded Milwaukee Irish Fest.
He also founded the Irish Fest Foundation and the Ward Irish Music Archives.
Ed served as a permanent member of the Irish Fest Board and served as the Chair of the Entertainment Committee.
View more blogs from Founder's Corner, here.