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Spring / Summer 2023


Welcome to the first newsletter of Harp of Tara, Kingston. The Harp of Tara Kingston newsletter will be distributed three times a year.

If you are interested in music, dancing, or Irish language, please visit our Harp of Tara website. To submit upcoming events, tidbits, photos, or for beginner Irish language, please contact

To all those who contributed to making this first edition of Harp of Tara Kingston’s newsletter, thank you.




What is Harp of Tara?

Harp of Tara is a branch of Comhaltas Ceolteorí Éireann (Organization of Irish Musicians), an organization that promotes Irish culture, including music, dance, language and history, around the world. Comhaltas is not a political organization.

Why join?

Your membership in Harp of Tara CCE connects you to Comhaltas branches in Canada and across the world. It also helps support our activities in Kingston. Last year Comhaltas gave us financial aid for both the East Region Convention and the Irish Language Weekend.

Memberships are $35 per person and $45 for a couple.

To join, contact Julie Bowes at


Comhaltas Convention 2024:

Every year Comhaltas organizes a convention for all of North America, a lively threeday party featuring musicians and dancers from across the continent. This coming year the convention will be in Buffalo, NY, April 4-7 2024. Buffalo’s proximity to Ontario and Quebec makes this a particularly accessible location for Canadians—if you have ever considered going to a Comhaltas convention, this is the time. Details are available at:



Spring Rain Irish Festival in May

Spring Rain Irish Festival happened on May 5, 2023 in Belwood, Ontario. Once again, Marilyn organised a very successful day packed with interactive displays, lunch, and ended the night with a kitchen party at the local hall. Harp of Tara members were present. Julie did a dance workshop and performed a solo dance during the kitchen party. Stephen and John made buttons with people’s equivalent name in Irish and had people find identical place names on a map of Canada and a map of Ireland put pins on the maps; Cindy, who is an ornithologist, educated people on birds in Canada and Ireland; Kathleen taught a few Irish words to people at a tea party table. Marilyn had people at other interactive stations to give bodhrán lessons, teach spinning, a tea vendor called a Sipologist, and much more. Marilyn organising, planning, and did incredible work to make the Spring Rain Irish Festival such a success. For those who have never been; do plan on attending if there is another one next year.

Tamworth 175th anniversary took place on June 10, 2023

Harp of Tara had dancers performing for a full hour. Eithne Dunbar and Dympna McConnell sang a beautiful song called The Fields of Athenry and dedicated it to all those who have Irish ancestry. Dancers from the McGrath School of Irish Dance performed several dances, some with soft shoes, some with hard shoes. Julie Bowes performed a sean-nós dance, and the Irish set-dancers showcased three dances including The Camp Set figure 3 Polkas, The Clare Lancers figure 5, and the Clare Plain Set figure 5.

Margaret had a table at the library to talk about the book she had been writing.



Slow Session

Are you learning to play an instrument, but still shy about joining a session? Are you interested in learning some Irish traditional music, but don’t know where to start? The slow session is a way of playing with a group of friendly folks at a moderate speed using traditional music from The Kingston Irish Slow Session Tunebook, which is available online. Everyone and all ages are welcome, from beginners to experienced musicians. The slow session meets on Tuesdays from 3:30 - 5:30 at 202 Main Street Barriefield in the beautiful garden. For more information, contact Bob MacDiarmid at



Stór focal Gaeilge / Irish Word Lore

geis (pronounced gaysh) geasa (plural) (pronounced gassa)

A geis is a spell that places a binding injunction on someone else. Common in Irish and other Celtic traditional literature, geasa could not be broken without the risk of shame or even death. Geasa could make life complicated. According to Manchan Magan, whose book Thirty-Two Words for Field is a treasure trove of fascinating Gaelic vocabulary, the high king Conaire Mór had geasa binding every part of his life. He “wasn’t able to sleep in a house that had a fire or any light visible from outside, nor could he leave his fort at Tara every ninth night. He couldn’t travel clockwise around the Hill of Tara or counter-clockwise around Bregia. He couldn’t kill any bird, nor was he allowed to settle quarrels between any two of his subjects.” Eventually he breaks all these geasa with disastrous results. For the full story, read “The Destruction of Da Derga’s Hostel.”

submitted by Ruth Wehlau



H of T offers regular weekly set dance classes every Thursday evening from 7 to 9, starting on September 14 at 202 Main Street in Barriefield. Your Harp of Tara membership entitles you to participation at no additional cost at this time.

Set and ceili dance classes are also offered by the Kingston Seniors’ Centre at 56 Francis Street. Harp of Tara members lead these classes every Thursday morning from 11:30 to 12:30. If you are interested in these classes please contact the Seniors’ centre at 613-548-7810 or go to the centre to register.

Submitted by Stephen Rayner



Online Learners Meeting in Person

Kathleen and John, members of Harp of Tara Kingston, facilitate Irish language classes online. Learners participating live in Montreal, Ganan

Aisling (left) and Todd (right) from Boston, Michigan  and John and Kathleen (middle) from Ontario Photo by P. Duggan Pub owner
Aisling (left) and Todd (right) from Boston, Michigan and John and Kathleen (middle) from Ontario Photo by P. Duggan Pub owner

onque, Ottawa, Kingston, Toronto, Kingston, and as far as Vancouver Island, Boston, Ellicott City Washington DC, and in many other places.

Kathleen and John arrived for a 6-7 week vacation in Ireland on March 2, 2023, and met up with Todd and his wife Aisling for lunch at P. Duggan Pub. P. Duggan Pub is located around the corner from Heuston Station, Dublin, so it was a very convenient spot for a meal. Todd took a sabbatical from his responsibilities to join his wife who was a fellow at Trinity College Dublin. Kathleen and Todd have been meeting online for Irish language and for Book Club on a weekly basis and this was their first time meeting in person.

Spotlight on Language Learners

Congratulations to Cindy Cartwright, Canadian recipient of the Oireachtas Gaeilge Cheanada award and J’eannine O’Malley or Róisín in Irish, recipient of the Fulbright award from The Ireland – United States Commission for Education Exchange. Both recipients participate in online Irish language classes offered by Harp of Tara, Kingston. Cindy and Róisín met in person for the first time in An Cheathrú Rua. The National University (NUI) has changed its name to Ollscoil na Gaillimhe / University of Galway.

As Gaeilge

Dia Duit

Éilis is ainm dom, agus as Clones, Co Muineachán a tháinig mo shinsir. Mac Cionaoith an t-ainm a bhí air.

Rugadh mé ag Hamilton Ontario, ach tá mé I mo chónaí in Oileán Vancouver anois. Tá Oileán Vancouver an-álainn. Táimid ag súil sa foraois bháistí agus bím ag súil ar an trá gach maidin. Pádraig is m'fhear céile.

Is múinteoir an-fhoighneach í Caitlin, agus is maith liom an rang Gaeilge. Bhí mé ag labhairt Gaeilge gach lá, ach mo chairde ní maith liom. Lol. “Beagán a rá agus é a rá go maith”. Sin nath a bhfuil mé an tugtha dó ar fad.

Éilis Greenaway



On April 28-30 Irish language speakers from Kingston and beyond came together for an exciting weekend of Irish language and culture. The weekend began on Friday evening with stories, songs and dancing at the opening siamsa.

Saturday and Sunday featured classes in Irish at four levels from beginner to fluent, as well as workshops in instrumental music, set dance, sean nós dance, singing in Irish, and Celtic art. Other activities included a whisky tasting, and a lecture by Bill Jeffers from the Amherst Island Dry Stone Walls project on efforts to restore the stone fences built by the island’s Irish immigrants in the 19th century. The highlight of the weekend was the céilí, which included dance demonstrations, story-telling and a skit in Irish, as well as set and céilí dancing, called by Stephen Rayner, with music performed by the Seventh Town Céili Band.

The event was partially supported by a grant from the Meatheal Fund and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs.

Submitted by Ruth Wehlau



Domino Theatre production of Dial M for Murder

Help support Harp of Tara by coming to this community production. We will be selling Mac chocolate bars (Brendan McAleer’s bean-to-bar chocolate) before the show and during intermission. Order tickets directly though Harp of Tara, not through Domino. Tickets are $20.00. The production will be on Wednesday, Nov. 1, at 7:30 pm. Domino Theatre is located at 218 Princess St. Kingston.

See you there!



Worth Making - Joan’s Soda Bread

Those who meet for Irish language at Bob’s house eat together and enjoy Joan’s soda bread. In fact, my friend Alex, who is from Ireland and who makes soda bread every week tried Joan’s recipe and has been making it every week since he first tried it, and that was several years ago. Here is Joan’s recipe.

Did you know that November 17 is National Homemade Bread Day in the USA. Let’s all make Joan’s soda bread recipe on that day, if not before, of course! Send in your photos and comments. Let Joan know how your soda bread turned out.

​Soda Bread

Arán Sóide

2 cups all-purpose flour​

2 cupáin plúr geal

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cupáin plúr cascín

1 cup oatmeal (not quick) (or ½ oats ½ bran)

1 cupáin min choirce

1/4 cup sugar (I put 1-2 tbsp)

1/4 cupáin súcre (cuirim 1-2 spúnóg boird)

​1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 taespúnóg sóid aráin

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 taespúnóg salann

½ tsp baking powder (Joan adds)

½ taespúnóg púdar bákála

Raisins (optional)

Mix dry ingredients together. Add 2 cups buttermilk & 1/4 cup oil. Do not over stir, stir just to moisten -it will be lumpy. Bake in greased 9 x 5 pan at 350 F for 1 hour. Or make two round breads on a Silpat or parchment paper. Cheers.



Tree Commemoration

On 27 June 2023, the Harp of Tara Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann held a tree commemoration event at McBurney (“Skeleton “) Park in downtown Kingston to honour Annie McConnell Strong, Jack Hickman and Angeles Garcia. We selected a beautiful Autumn Blaze Maple (planted in 2005) and had a plaque installed dedicating the tree to these founding members of our branch (including a quote from “The Fiddler of Dooney” by W.B. Yeates).

This lovely event was attended by family and friends - after sharing many stories, we finished the get-together by singing the “The Galway Shawl” for Annie (led by Eithne Dunbar) followed by a celebratory luncheon at a local Irish pub. Annie, Jack and Angela would be pleased!

Passing it Forward

Stephen and Kathleen passed it forward Thank you to Stephen for passing on a donated lap harp. At the 175th anniversary of Tamworth events on June 10th, 2023, Stephen said: this harp is taking up room in our house; do you know anyone who wants it? Kathleen said she knew someone who has been wanting a harp and immediately thought of Bernadette. Bernadette is a musician, a teacher, and sometimes a music teacher at the school where she teaches. The metal strings will be replaced with nylon strings. Bernadette had downloaded the free Kingston Tunes Book before Kathleen delivered the harp to her. She is off from her teaching course load this summer, she will have the time to practice playing the harp.



Ontario Time






3:30 pm – 5:00 pm

Music sessions at Bob’s house

Online Irish Book Club We read children’s books.

4:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Online Irish for beginners Bun go Barr 2

5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Online Irish for beginners Bun go Barr 3

Online Irish conversation for beginners

In person Irish language for beginners at Queen’s University ARC building, 3rd floor across from elevators

In person Irish language For advanced & fluent speakers

​7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Online Irish language for very beginners Bun go Barr 1

To participate in Harp of Tara events, all you need to do is become a member of Harp of Tara.



Saturday, Sept. 17 11:00 am - 7:00 pm

Inter-cultural Arts Festival, Confederation Basin. Visit our booth at this family-friendly festival, where we will be selling scones and Bailey’s brownies made by Brendan MacAleer.

Sunday, Oct. 1 1 pm - 4 pm:

Céilí at the Merchant Tap House, located at 6 Princess Street, Kingston, with live music by the Seventh Town Céilí Band and dances called by Stephen Rayner. No experience (or partner) is necessary. People of all ages are welcome. Entry by donation (suggested donation $10). The dancing starts at 1:00, but you might want to come earlier to have lunch at the pub.

Monday, Oct. 16 7:00 pm

Harp of Tara Annual General Meeting on Zoom. A Zoom link will be sent out to Harp of Tara members prior to the meeting.

Saturday, Oct. 22

Comhaltas Canada East Region Annual General Meeting in Ottawa. Here is the link:

Wednesday, Nov. 1 7:30 pm

Domino Theatre production of Dial M for Murder Help support Harp of Tara by coming to this community production. We will be selling Mac chocolate bars (Brendan McAleer’s bean-to-bar chocolate) before the show and during intermission. Order tickets directly though Harp of Tara, not through Domino. Tickets are $20.00. Domino Theatre is located at 218 Princess St. Kingston.

Do go to events, enjoy meeting other fellow Harp of Tara members, take pictures, and submit them to the Harp of Tara Kingston Newsletter at

Harp of Tara Newsletter Sept. 2023
Download PDF • 14.90MB

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