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‘A life devoted to music’ – Clare Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann lead tributes to Pat Liddy

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Clare Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann have led the tributes to a Newmarket-on-Fergus man who devoted his life promoting CCE.

Pat Liddy was one of six children Dan, Séamus, Pat, Cyril, Attracta and Peggy, his parents were farmers and their home at Lislea, Newmarket-on Fergus was a house full of music, singing and dancing. The Liddy family name is synonymous with Comhaltas and with traditional music in general. Pat devoted his life to promoting Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, in the 1960s he helped set up a number of branches throughout the county.

He was passionate about set dancing and with his wife Nora they ran the hugely successful Cine Rínce set dancing club at Cois na hAbhna for many years. Pat was an excellent set dancing tutor and he was a fixture at Scoil Fleadh Nua, he also adjudicated at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann for many years.

Apart from set dancing Pat loved singing and he attended many of the singing clubs in Co. Clare and beyond. His long time friend and neighbour Robbie McMahon held his “First Friday” sessions at Duggan’s Pub in Spancilhill where Pat was a regular visitor. In 2002 Pat organised a tribute weekend to Robbie which was a huge success, and in 2010 Cois na hAbhna Archive made a documentary film on Robbie’s singing career in which Pat featured.

In November 1973 he convened the first meeting between the Clare Co. Board of Comhaltas and Head Office officials when the decision was made to move Fleadh Nua from Dublin to Ennis on a permanent basis from 1974. Pat was chairman of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in 1977 when it returned to Ennis after a gap of 21 years, the proceeds of which were the initial funding of the Cois na hAbhna building fund.

Pat was a constant presence in Cois na hAbhna from the day the first sod of the foundation was turned on the 30th July 1979, one of the original five Cois na hAbhna trustees, his memorable fundraising schemes resulted in Cois na hAbhna being debt free by the end of 1984.

In recent times Pat’s fundraising ability was once again to the fore when he launched a very successful patronage scheme to raise much needed funds for essential repairs to the building. Pat published his history of Cois na hAbhna in 2016 during Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Ennis, it chronicles the growth of Comhaltas in Co. Clare from its beginning in 1954 as well as the development of a landmark Cultural Centre Cois na hAbhna, a long held dream of his friend and colleague the late Seán Reid, who sadly passed away before it was completed. This book will form part of Pat’s vast legacy to the organisation he loved, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. The book is available from Cois na hAbhna.

In 2006 Cois na hAbhna was redeveloped with the support of State funding, a new management board was put in place by Comhaltas HQ, where Pat served as treasurer realising his lifelong dream of a fully functional and self-financing state of the art cultural centre.

Pat’s funeral took place in Clooney on Christmas Eve. A guard of honour from Abbey Comhaltas branch, led by branch Chairman Dick O’Connell, and from Clare Comhaltas, led by County Chairman Mark Nestor was in attendance as the hearse left the church.

Pat is survived by his wife Nora, children Gearóid, Cathal and Triona, grandchildren and extended family.

Stuart Holly is the editor and co-founder of The Clare Echo. A native of Ennis, Stuart studied at St Flannan's College before obtaining a journalism degree in Dublin. After interning at The Evening Herald, he landed his first job with The Irish Daily Mail, Stuart worked in newspaper production with the Independent Group and in Auckland, New Zealand before a lengthy spell as a pun-spewing sub-editor at the Irish Daily Star. In 2015, Stuart returned to The Banner County where he took up employment as a news reporter with The Clare People.

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