History

CCEArds Comhaltas was formed 1st July 1976 with eight members present in the home of Denis Calvert, who over the years played a pivotal role in the fostering and promotion of the Branch at all levels.  The first Chairman was Joe Mullan, who, until his death, was an active member of the Traditional Music scene.

By the time of the second AGM there were 30 members and this has grown over the years to over 200 members.

The first of the County Down Fleadhs hosted by the Branch was held in 1978 in Portaferry and many more memorable Fleadhs were to follow.  In 2012 and 2013 Ards CCÉ hosted the most succesful Fleadhs ever seen in Bangor, Co. Down with thousands of spectators in attendance. July 2016 will witness, for the first time ever, Ards CCÉ hosting an Ulster Fleadh in Bangor, a major milestone in our 40 years’ existence.

Local winners have gone on to win at Ulster and all Ireland levels.  Many of our members have had the opportunity to perform all over Ireland, Europe and the USA.

Christmas 1983 saw the Branch start The “Ards Rhymers”, who took to the road with their first performance in the Tavern Bar, Carrowdore. In 2008 a book was published on the history of the “Ards Rhymers”.

After over 40 years the Branch continues to promote traditional music, song and dance throughout the North Down / Ards area and further a field.  Due to the incredible success of our recent Fleadhs, many more young musicians have also taken up an instrument, which is fantastic to see.