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Provincial Youth Officer

Mairi shares her story about her journey in becoming a Youth Officer. 

My Story

6th of February 2024 

I’m currently provincial Youth Officer, (having previously held regional and branch YO roles for 7 years) and have been teaching at my branch Irish Minstrels CCÉ for 6 years now. I work alongside the other provincial Youth Officer Calum McGregor and all the regional and branches’ youth officers to create spaces for children and young people to continue learning and passing on the tradition. 


I started my journey with the St Roch's ceili band which is associated with the Irish Minstrel’s branch. The band was (is!) famous in Glasgow and my parents knew them from going and dancing at ceilis long before I was in the picture. I did Irish dancing competitions when I was younger but was always more drawn to the music so joined the classes on a Tuesday night when I was 11. Through classes, sessions, concerts, competitions and so much more I've been able to build friendships both within my branch and with the amazing people at our neighbouring branches both in Glasgow and further afield across the UK, Ireland and overseas. 


I was keen to get into teaching to give back to the branch that had done so much for me. While growing up, I looked up to the musicians who volunteered each week to spend their time with us. I couldn't imagine I'd ever get close to that level. It's been such a confidence boost being able to develop my musical skills over the years, to be able to get up on stage to perform and compete. 


I also evolved a lot in my teaching abilities, which was massively improved by the opportunity to attend Comhaltas TTCT course. My branch, spearheaded by recent Gradam winner Frank McArdle, rallied around me to get through the course. It was an intense week where I was mentored by so many legends of traditional music and am delighted to have come through it with honours and brought that knowledge back to my branch where I still teach every week. 


I love that over the last few years I've also been able to see and contribute to a massive confidence boost the children can get from music. A lot of kids taking the beginner’s whistle class come in very shy and not willing to play in front of others. Being able to watch them over the weeks and months become more excited about coming, seeing their friends, learning some tunes and getting excited about going up on the stage and performing for others, showing off what they can now do is a real privilege. That new confidence and buzz about music and their abilities does wonders for their self-esteem and allows them to get up and perform in their schools and for their families, let alone in sessions, competitions, concerts and fleadhs


I’m very keen to support anyone else considering getting involved on any level of the committees. I feel like I grew up with my branch but it can still be daunting being the youngest in the room. However, the decision making, public speaking and so many other skills you develop through this is just another forward step in expanding that confidence. So if you’re considering taking a role just reach out to me, Calum or your branch leader to start your new journey.

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