Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCE) Ottawa Branch launches blog!

Pssst...there's a new (Irish) blog in town. Fortunately this town is big enough for another Irish blog. 

The Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Ottawa Branch has just released its new blog. As blogs do, this will help the local Branch to document their activities and maintain its history. When the translation is provided, posts will also be published in Irish. The CCE Ottawa Branch blog is the companion of the Comhaltas website: http://www.ottawacomhaltas.com/. Note that their main webpage has also undergone some considerable updates.

Pssst...Ar deireadh tá an Ceoltóirí Éireann Comhaltas Ottawa Brainse blog beo! 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: http://www.ottawacomhaltas.com/

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Lá Gaeilge Irish Language Immersion Day - 17 Nov 2012

The Ottawa Irish Language Group, Caint is Comhrá, under the auspices of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, invites you to a:

Lá Gaeilge Irish Language Immersion Day for a fun day of learning the Irish Language!

No experience necessary, just a willingness to learn. Great teachers, good food and friendly folk.

Saturday, November 17th, 2012 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Registration and welcome from 8:30 am to 9:00 am
Blessed Sacrament Church Hall 194 Fourth Ave. (in the Glebe), Ottawa

Cost: $25 per person. Includes Lunch and Coffee Breaks.

Contact Toni Forsythe at: toni144@gmail.com or 613-233-9927 Please confirm your intent to attend by Monday, Nov. 12th, 2012.

We look forward to hosting this event and hope that many Irish Language learners can participate.

Please Note: The regular monthly Comhaltas céilí dance is scheduled for 8:00 pm that same evening. Bring your dancing shoes as well as your notebook!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Traditional Irish Soda Bread

Some many months ago we attended the play The Communication Cord, written by Brian Friel, and directed expertly by John P. Kelly of SevenThirty Productions, at The Gladstone Theatre. Not only were we delightfully entertained, but in the program there was a great recipe for traditional Irish soda bread. We have been using the recipe (below) and it makes a fine soda bread.

According to Wikipedia (the source of all knowledge?) soda bread is "a variety of quick bread traditionally made in a variety of cuisines in which sodium bicarbonate (otherwise known as baking soda) is used as a leavening agent instead of the more common yeast."  In Ottawa, it is a tradition to eat soda bread during the last break at the Comhaltas (Ottawa Branch) monthly ceilis. A wide variety of soda breads are made for these occasions by the members of the organisation. That is to say, there are more than one way to make a soda bread, though the recipes are all quite basic.

If you haven't made Irish soda bread before, you might want to watch this  video clip from RTE food (and a very similar recipe).  If you're really serious, you had better review the webpage contents of the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread (that's some serious stuff, there).

The recipe obtained from the Gladstone play is listed as "Nora Dan's Recipe for Traditional Irish Soda Bread" (just who is Nora Dan?):  

  • 4 cups (16  oz) of all purpose flour
  • 1 Teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 Teaspoon of salt
  • 14 oz. (1 3/4 cup) of buttermilk (you can use 14oz if thinned yogurt, buttermilk is available in large groceries)
  • Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly grease and flour a cake pan (8-10")
  • In a large bowl sieve and combine all the dry ingredients
  • Make a well in the dry ingredients in the bowl
  • Add the buttermilk slowly to the well, and mix in with your hands to form a sticky dough (add and mix, add more and mix, ...)
  • Place on a floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows the gas to escape)
  • Shape into round flat shape in the cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough
  • Cover the pan with another pan and bake for 30 minutes (this simulates the "bastible pot")
  • Remove the cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes
  • The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped to show it is done
  • Cover the bread in a tea towel and lightly sprinkle water on the cloth to keep the bread moist
Let it cool a while, then slice, butter, and eat as-is or add some jam or jelly. It's heaven!

Niamh Parsons offering singing lessons via Skype

Ellen McIsaac, founder of the Ottawa Celtic Choir, has sent this interesting opportunity for those who wish to sing in Irish:

Niamh Parsons, formerly lead singer with Arcady (Irish band, not the Canadian one) and Loose Connections, is a traditional singer based in, Dublin, Ireland, is offering traditional Irish singing lessons via Skype.

Her repertoire includes the big ballads of the English language tradition in Ireland, and she has won numerous accolades for her singing. She has been a dear friend of mine for 15
years, and is the singer on whom I modelled my own approach to
traditional singing.


She teaches both seasoned singers and total beginners, and is an incredibly warm and approachable teacher. Interested parties can direct their inquiries to Niamh on facebook, or to me at ellen at laughingbrook dot ca, and I will forward on their messages to Niamh.

Ellen McIsaac

"Brian's Ceili" dates for 2012-2013 Winter and Spring

There will be an Irish dance on Sat. Nov. 3, St. Margaret Mary Church, 7 Fairbairn St., 8:00 p.m., (doors open 7:30). Dance lessons on the basic steps will start 7:50 or when enough people are there.

Future dates include:
Nov 3, Nov 24, Jan 26, Feb 23, Mar 23 and Apr 27

If you have any suggestions on how to improve the Irish ceili's please let me know. Any requests for specific dances will be done if possible. If you would like to bring any munchies/desserts to share, that would be welcomed. If anyone has a talent for music, song, or dance and would like to entertain during our break please let me know.

Hope to see you there


Christmas Concert at Our Lady of the Annunciation - Wed 5 Dec. 2012


Our Lady of the Annunciation
le mercredi 5 décembre 2012, 19h00
Wednesday December 5, 2012, 7:00 p.m.

189, rue Archambault St.
(Secteur Hull Sector) Gatineau

featuring / en vedette
Acacia Lyra, Don Kavanagh
St. Brigid's Irish Session
Mary Comerton, Kristina DaCosta
Tom McSwiggan,
O.L.A. Singers

Special Guest: Archbishop Paul-André Durocher

Tickets $10 until 25 November, $15 after the 25th
Billets: 10$ jusqu'au 25 novembre, $15 après le 25
Information / Renseignements: 819-778-2827

Friday, 19 October 2012

Circle of Friends Harp Concert - 3 November 2012

Hi everyone,

November is a good month for harp music, I figure. It's grey, dull and sad ... the autumn show-off colours are over and the pristine snow-white beauty is yet to come. A little harp music is bound to lift the spirits ! Acacia Lyra will perform all-new and original songs and compositions in an evening of harp music at St. John's Church Saturday November 3. Our duo will be in very good company with fellow harp duo Zephyr Harps, along with classical harpists Lucile Brais Hildesheim and Gordon Johnston, performing a varied programme of musical beauty.

We hope you can attend!

Saturday November 3, 7.30 pm
St. John the Evangelist Church
154 Somerset at Elgin

Tickets $20.00 at the door or through the artists

Reception following the concert.

With best wishes,

Tin Whistle (Gerry Strong) and Guitar (Jean Hewson) Workshops - Sunday 21 Oct 2012

Join two of Canada's top traditional musicians from Newfoundland here at OFC for a set of conjoining workshops in tin whistle and guitar accompaniment followed by a performance (7:30 pm) at Stella Luna, our favorite gelato and fine food hang out next door! This a rare opportunity to study with two of the best.

Whistlers sign up for the Whistle Workshop with Newfoundland's Gerry Strong. This is a great opportunity to learn some unique tunes from tin whistle master Gerry Strong. Gerry will teach a couple of instrumental dance pieces from the traditional repertoire of Newfoundland. Participants should have a passing acquaintance with the tin whistle, but all levels of ability are welcome. Sunday, Oct 21, 2:30-4:30, $15 members ($20 non), WKSHP12-20.

Guitarists head to the Guitar Accompaniment Workshop with Newfoundland guitarist/singer, Jean Hewson. Jean will teach accompaniments for the tunes that Gerry will be instructing in his workshop. She will also pass along some advice and helpful tips on how to develop interesting and tasteful guitar settings for traditional tunes. Participants should have basic guitar skills.

Towards the end of the class,both groups will converge to play the tunes that they have learned, ending the session with a jam! Sunday, Oct 21, 2:30-4:30, $15 members ($20 non), WKSHP12-21.
See you there!


Tin Whistle Workshop
Gerry Strong
21 Oct 2012

Guitar Accompaniment
Jean Hewson
21 Oct 2012

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Two Irish Traditional Music Concerts - great craic!

There are two GREAT Irish traditional music concerts coming up in Ottawa, and they are within a 7 day period. I am recommending both. Advance tickets are competitively priced for the quality of entertainment.

This Friday night (12 Oct) the first concert is Oirialla at the Gigspace Ottawa, located at 953 Gladstone Avenue, Ottawa, just up the street from the Gladstone Theatre (near Preston). Due to the size of the venue, which is intimate, there are two Seatings, one at 7:00 pm and one at 9:00 pm. Tickets are $20. Trio Oirialla is comprised of fiddler Gerry O’Connor, accordionist Martin Quinn, and Breton composer and guitarist Gilles le Bigot. Their music showcases both Irish and Breton songs and tunes. Many of these come from the ancient, mystical Irish kingdom of Oriel whose music has developed as an eclectic mix of rhythms, melodies, and strong poetical lyrics. The three musicians making up Oirialla are renowned in their own right, and perform frequently as both soloists and ensemble players. The next day these musicians are offering workshops in their instruments. Tickets and all details are available through the link above.

Not a week later, on 18 October, the second concert is Echoes of Erin at Blessed Sacrament Church, located at 194 Fourth Ave, in the Glebe. This concert is a showcase for all that is best in Irish traditional music, song and dance. A stage of 15 musicians, top class performers from all over Ireland, in all fields display the highest standards and regional styles that have become synonymous with these events down through the years. These are the same performers who have already thrilled audiences throughout the length and breadth of Ireland during the Comhaltas Irish Tour. Tickets and all details are available through the link above.

One more thing. There will be free snacks at the Echoes of Erin concert, and a cash bar. After the show, local musicians who attend the concert are invited to bring their instruments and join the musicians travelling from Ireland off stage for a traditional pub session in the hall. It's going to be a time!  Parking is available on-street, and the nearby schools on Fourth Ave. have agreed to allow concert goers to park in their parking lots.

See you out at the gigs!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Int'l Uilleann Pipe Day hits Ottawa - 20 October 2012

I encourage people to go down to the Ottawa Folklore Center on Saturday 20 October and hear the uilleann pipes. If you are curious about this complex and enchanting Irish instrument, this is your chance to listen and ask questions. You can even try playing them!

April Hurst, Margot McCann and Tim Robinson will be playing an hour long session at the Ottawa Folklore Center, 1111 Bank St., Saturday Oct 20, 1-2 pm. They will be playing on the sales floor of the main level, talking to people and promoting the instrument and its music.

Na Píobairí Uilleann will again be holding a co-ordinated International Uilleann Piping Day on Saturday, October 20, 2012 to raise awareness of the instrument around the world. The first such event last year saw events in 20 locations world-wide and we are hoping on build on that in 2012.

The idea behind the day is that individuals or groups of pipers in locations around the globe organise a small event such as a recital or workshop in a local public venue and it would be great to see events in as many countries and locations as possible.

International Uilleann Piping Day gives the performers the opportunity to raise awareness of the uilleann pipes and activities in their locality and is also a great excuse to have an enjoyable musical gathering.

(Thanks to Tim for the article)