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The Ceili Bands of the 60's and before

Currently listing  64 Ceili bands as of 05/16/2015

"Ceili" Bands (the word Ceilildhe means "party" in Gaelic) have been around Ireland for centuries. In the earliest days, ceilis would take place almost anywhere: in a house, at a crossroads, where ever a few musicians and dancers got together.

In fact, form of entertainment played an important role in the everyday life of rural Ireland in the middle of the 20th century. Often in those days before and just after World War II, rural farmers could find it hard to make ends meet. There were two ways one could augment their income back then. Trade goods like eggs with the traveling shop (aka the van man) for other goods like beans and flour. Or open you house for a "house dance" and charge a few pence for the all night dance.

In the early years of the 20th Century, Ceili bands and Orchestras vied for the hearts of Irish dancers. Of course, orchestras tended to be more refined and sophisticated, sporting tuxedos and reading sheet music, while the ceili bands were more raucous, casual, and more "rural" in nature.

Finding information about the Ceili Bands of Ireland is a difficult task today. Unlike the orchestras, many of which morphed into new formats when the showbands took over the ballroom scene, the ceili bands all but disappeared. No longer providing music for the dancing public, they were relegated to guest appearances at Fleadh Cheoils and Irish Traditional Festivals.

However, in the 1940's and 1950's the Ceili Bands were a major force in the Irish Entertainment scene. This section of the website may never grow much past the current size, but we thought it was important to pay tribute to this form of Irish entertainment separately, rather than as a subset of the showband list.         

Click here for Ceili band photos.               Click here for personal photo collections

Click on any blue highlighted Ceili band name to see their photos

All-Ireland Ceili Band [Unknown] (featured Joe Lynch)
Assaroe Ceili Band/P2/P3 [Ballyshannon] (formed in 1949)
Avoca Ceili Band^ [Avoca, Co. Wicklow]
Benbulben Ceili Band [Sligo?]
Blarney Ceili Band^ [Cork]
Bofield Ceili Band [Bofield, Co. Mayo]
Bridge Ceili Band [Portarlington] (formed in 1970 and still going strong today)
John Brennan's Ceili Band [Unknown] (on the road in 1935)
Castle Ceili Band [Co. Dublin] (formed in the early 1960's)
Chris Connolly Ceili Band^ [Kilcullen]
Ceolteoiri Loch Gorman  [Unknown]
Craobh Ruadh Ceili Band [Mostrim]
David Currie Ceili Band [Belfast]
Sean Donoghue Ceili Band/P2 [Tynagh, Co. Galway]
Dermot Dunne Ceili Band [Unknown]
Ritchie Fitzgerald Ceili Band [Bundoran]  (Ritchie sadly passed away in February, 2007)
Jackie Hearst "International" Ceili Band/P2 [Warrenpoint, Co. Down]
Ciaran Kelly Ceili Band [Unknown]
Clogher Ceili Band [Unknown] (formed by Cork born Pat Daly)
Coleman Country Ceili Band [Co. Sligo]
Doocastle Ceili Band [Doocastle] (on the road in late 1950's)
Malachy Doris Ceili Band/P2/P3 [Ardboe, Dungannon]
Sonny Flynn's Ceili Band [Unknown]
Gallowglass Ceili Band [Naas] (dropped the Ceili and became the Gallowglass with Tony O'Leary)
Gilhooley Ceili Band [Sligo]
Glenview Ceili Band [Sligo]
Golden Harp Ceili Band [Dublin]
Graignamanagh Ceili Band^ [Co. Kilkenny] (formed in the early 1960's-formerly known as St. Joseph's Ceili Band)
Green Linnet Ceili Band^ [Co. Dublin]
Harp of Erin Ceili Band [Derrylin]
Seamus Horan's Ceili Band [Unknown] (on the road in 1957)
Kilfenora Ceili Band^[Kilfenora, Co. Clare] (founded in 1909 and still on the road today)
Kinross Ceili Band [Unknown] (on the road in 1959)
Innisfree Ceili Band [Ballyjamesduff, Cavan]
Kiltormer Ceili Band^[Ballinsaloe]
Leitrim Loughrea Ceili Band^ [Loughrea]
Liam Ivory's Ceili Band [Unknown]
Lough Gowna Ceili Band [Co. Kilkenny] 
Jim Lynn Ceili Bandshow [Co. Derry] (on the road in the mid 70's)
Cathal McAnulty Ceili Band [Co. Down] (formed in 1985)
McStocker Ceili Band [Co. Antrim] (on the road in the 80's)
Muckelty Ceili Band [Unknown]
Brendan Mulhaire's Ceili Band^ [Galway]
Sean Norman Ceili Band [Edenderry, Co. Offaly] (formed in 1965)
Dermot O'Brien Ceili Band^ [Dublin]
Michael O'Mahony's Shandrum Ceili Band [Milford, Co. Cork]
Oranmore Ceili Band^ [Oranmore, Co. Galway] (broke up in the late 80's and recently reformed)
Owenmore Ceili Band [Sligo]
Pickering Ceili Band^ [Moy, Co. Tyrone]
Pride of Erin Ceili Band* [Omagh, Co. Tyrone]
Progressiffs Ceili Band* [Unknown]
Donal Ring Ceili Band^ [Cork]
Shamrock Ceili Band^ [Navan]
Shandon Ceili Band^ [Cork]
Jimmy Shand Ceili Band [Unknown]
Shandrum Ceili Band [Cork]
Shields Ceilidhe Band [Unknown] (On the road in 1935)
St. Mary's Ceili Bandshow^ [Sligo]
St. Peter's Ceili Band [Dungannon]
St. Tiernach's Ceili Band [Unknown]
Malachy Sweeney Ceili Band [Armagh] ()
Tulla Ceili Band [Tulla, Co. Clare] (formed in 1946)
Urney Ceili Band [Cavan] (gigging in 1958)
Waterford Comhaltas Ceili Band [Waterford]  (formed in 1988)
Western Ceili Band [Galway]

^ All entries marked like this come from the 1967 Showband Annual which we received from Liam O'Reilly of Arklow, former member of The Columbia Showband, among others. Thanks Liam for the contribution and photos elsewhere on the site! Other names supplied via Liam were furnished by Kathryn (unknown last name), who has been involved in Ceili music for many years.
* Our thanks to Declan Colgan for adding this name to our list.

 


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In Loving Memory of Grant Gallagher: Sept. 21, 1990 - Nov. 18, 2006