A commemorative plaque to the late Pat Liddy, acknowledging a lifetime of work for Cois na hAbhna and Comhaltas will be unveiled in Cois na hAbhna this Friday (November 25th) by Dr. Labhrás Ó Murchú Ard Stiúrthóir Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.

Newmarket-on-Fergus native, Pat died on Monday December 21st 2020 and although his funeral mass on Thursday 24th December at Clooney Church could only be attended by close family members, many made the journey from all over the country to line the roadside in a fitting Guard of Honour to a man whose parting gift to all of us was the legacy of a living tradition that is Cois na hAbhna.

From the time he became a member of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, in the 1960’s Pat was very active, setting up a number of branches throughout County Clare, but it was set dancing that his true passion could be found. Along with his wife Nora, he ran the hugely successful Cine Rínce set dancing club here in Cois na hAbhna for many years. Pat was an excellent and highly regarded set dancing tutor, and was in great demand at workshops throughout Ireland. A regular teacher at Scoil Fleadh Nua down through the years, he also adjudicated at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.

Apart from Set Dancing Pat had a great love of traditional singing, travelling to singing clubs in Co. Clare and beyond. He was a great supporter of the First Friday sessions at Duggan’s pub in Spancilhill hosted by his longtime friend and neighbour, Robbie McMahon. In 2002 Pat organised a hugely successful tribute weekend to Robbie, and also featured in ‘Last Night As I Lay Dreaming’ the film documentary about the life of Robbie McMahon, produced by the Cois na hAbhna Archive.

Pat was instrumental in bringing the first Fleadh Nua to Ennis when, 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 onwards. And when Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann returned to Ennis in 1977 after a gap of 21 years, Pat was chairman of the committee who made it possible.

Moneys raised through that Fleadh helped establish the Cois na hAbhna building fund and Pat was constantly dedicated to the project from the day the first sod of the foundation was turned on the 30th July 1979 until its completion. He was one of the original five Cois na hAbhna guarantors with his brother Dan, Francie O’Halloran, Frank Custy & Larry Blake.

Pat’s memorable fundraising schemes resulted in Cois na hAbhna being debt free by the end of 1984. In 2006 Cois na hAbhna was redeveloped with the support of State funding. At that time a new management board was put in place by Comhaltas with Pat serving as treasurer. Later, his fundraising ability was once again to the fore when he launched the very successful patronage scheme to raise much needed funds for essential repairs to the building.

Pat was part of the organising committee that brought Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann back to Ennis in 2016 and 2017 and he immersed himself totally in the management of numerous fleadh events, his experience of previous Fleadh’s proving invaluable.

Frank Whelan, Chairman of Cois na hAbhna stated, “We are all proud of Cois na hAbhna and its achievements, and we owe much of its success to Pat’s hard work and perseverance down through the years. In 2016, Pat published his history of Cois na hAbhna chronicling the growth of Comhaltas in Co. Clare from its beginnings in 1954 as well as the development of the centre itself. The book is just one part of Pat’s great legacy to the organisation he loved, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann”.

The evening will begin with a reception at 8.30pm followed by the unveiling of the plaque, a singing session led by John Condon and the Spancilhill singers club will bring the evening to a close.

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