The 1934 annual feis of the United Irish Counties Association will be held at the New York Coliseum, 177th Street and Tremont Avenue, on Sunday, Sept 23. Designed to “encourage Irish cultural activities” in this country, the feis will feature competitions in dancing, singing, and music between men, women, and children.
This year’s feis has been divided into four competitive sections–vocal selections, Gaelic selections, choral and step-dancing selections. In all, 48 events will be contested during the day, the features of which will be the jig, reel, hornpipe, slip-jig, bagpipe and warpipe contests.
According to William Burke, chairman of the general activities committee, entries for this year’s feis are pouring in so rapidly that the event is taking on the aspects of “the greatest Irish festival ever attempted by the Irish race in America.” Prizes will be awarded in each of the competitions.
In announcing the 1934 feis, Paul O’Dwyer, president of the United Irish Counties Association, extended an invitation to all persons to take an active interest in the event.
John L. Gerig, professor of Celtic literature at Columbia University, has traced the earliest feis in Ireland to the days of Ollam Fodla, who was King of Ireland seven or eight centuries before the Christian era. The assembly held triennially at the beginning of November, was attended by all Irish nobles and the principal scholars of Erin.
In addition to the feis there were numerous other assemblies, mainly of a legislative or tax-assessing character, according to Prof. Gerig. These included the deal, the mordal or ardal, the mitehal and the tomcorach, but the most popular was the aenach, which was open to people of all classes without distinction. The aenach, too, performed a triple function.
“These fairs were quite numerous,” he continued, “and prizes were awarded to the most successful poets, musicians and professors and masters of every art. These competitions naturally gave great impetus to the cultivation of the arts, so much that at one time in early Ireland, it is said, one-third of the patrician families followed the profession of poetry.”
The committee headquarters are at the Knights of Columbus Hotel, 51st street and Eighth avenue. All entries must be filed on or before Sept 1.
The active committee is as follows: John O’Connor, chairman; Frank Holden, secretary; Patrick Callaghan, Martin Lydon, John Keane, Chris O’Grady, Joseph Lydon, John Donnelly, Joseph Brennan, Francis Ryan, George Crummy, Michael McGrath, Vincent O’Connell, Thomas Finnerty, Joseph McLoughlin, Gregory Kavanaugh, Christopher J. Murray, Mrs. Slattery, May Nugent, Judy Goode, May McGee, Margaret O’Connell, Gay MacDonald, Bridie Greene, John McLoughlin.