Co Secretary, St Patrick's CCE
"In such a devastating time for our family, our Comhaltas family were there for us."
I moved to Scotland from Dublin with my husband, Joe and daughter, 5 years ago. Our daughter Kayleigh attended a Gael Scoil back home and played the bodhrán after school. When we moved we wanted her to stay connected to her Irish heritage and culture. That's when we found St.Patrick's CCE.
From the moment we walked through the door we were made to feel welcome. Kayleigh took part in the beginners tin whistle lessons and I used the time to chat with the other members who weren't musicians.
It was great to see the young and older musicians play side by side.It wasn't too much longer after we joined that I was asked to consider taking on the role of secretary at the branch.
When Covid put a stop to our Saturday morning meetings our branch did our best to reach out to our members to make them feel less alone. We, like so many, took to Zoom quiz nights and eventually socially distanced events.
In August- September 2021 my husband began to feel unwell. Tests were carried out, he was admitted to hospital and there he was diagnosed with having metastases on his liver. Our world was being turned upside down before us. Kayleigh continued to attend the Saturday morning sessions and the members looked out for her.
Joe was only in hospital for 3 weeks and 4 days when he passed away in October.
In such a devastating time for our family, our Comhaltas family were there for us. I decided that I should step down as secretary but after conversations with Paddy Callaghan and a few others, I remained on the committee in a shared role with the hope that it would benefit me, give me something to come back to! I am so grateful for the support I received. The shared role has brought me even closer to a wonderful lady, who has become a good friend.
Kayleigh stopped playing music and practising as much for a bit but she entered both the Scottish and All Britain Fleadh in 2022. The competitions gave her something to look forward to and stay connected until she was ready once again.
This year was different. The All Britain Fleadh 2023 has been a fantastic experience for us as a family. I saw a real growth in Kayleigh's confidence when playing music and I know her dad would be so proud. We have both put ourselves a little further out there and met some really inspirational people. I can't describe the feeling of comfort, pride and awe when I see all the friendly faces buzzing about with a common goal - keeping our family values, culture, heritage and sense of community alive all through music.