Listowel 2002 was going to be a historic year for Ceoltoiri Crosskeys. This was the first time we had qualified for the Senior Ceili Band All-Ireland Competition. Who would have thought August could be so busy ?
As usual an advance party headed off on the Sunday to take part in in the Scoil Eigse, although considering the quality of the tans and the red bits on display on the Friday night attendance figures may have dropped a little. The daily practices were arranged for early evening in the Community Centre and as the week progressed a growing number of followers were gathering to enjoy the music and lend their very enthusiastic support. "Milo" having performed admirable last year as the Crosskeys mascot arrived early this year to enjoy the craic.
Saturday was going to be a busy day for us. Our musicians had a selection of solo, duet, and trio competitions and to end the day a very competitive 15-18 Ceili Band competiton. This year the Ceili Band had pulled out all the stops to try and clinch the coveted 15-18 title. Last years winners were as strong as ever but that little bit extra from Crosskeys caught the judges eye (Milo included) and Crosskeys were declared the All-Ireland 15-18 champions for 2002. There was a tremendous roar from the players and supporters alike and many a hug was exchanged when the result was announced. A buzz of excitement and delight settled on Crosskeys. The mobile phones got a good hammering that evening.
Sunday afternoon was the Grupai Cheoil competition, the sun was out and the heat was on. The nerves were tingling and a sturdy performance from the group gained a thunderous applause from the crowd and a third place from the judges. The younger contingent could now relax their competitions complete. It was now time for the Senior Ceili Band to take the strain. We gathered early in the tuning tent outside the venue to calm the nerves and lap up the atmosphere. It was as John said " Time to dip the toe in the water". Hopefully it wouldn't be too hot. We were out of the running but invaluable experience was gained and with a little luck we will be back. As an old local at the Crosskeys used to say "We fear no noise, most certainly not".
Listowel was an momentous fleadh for us but it was also tinged with sadness. Earlier in the year we had lost one of our hard working committee members, Gerry Murray, who died suddenly. Gerry was a loyal and staunch supporter. His son Joe played in the winning 15-18 Ceili Band.
A big thankyou to all who supported our many functions throughout the year and we look forward to your continued support for 2003. We are hoping that in 2003 our music will take us further a field. Watch this space.