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From Beyond the ATG: St Catherine's Accordion Band's Stateside Dreams Finally Come True

The Killybegs Band from Killybegs, Co. Donegal, Ireland, represented the Donegal Association in the Big Apple on March 16, 2024 and their experience leading up to this event.  

The band was left completely devastated in 2020 when their committee took the difficult decision to cancel their trip to New York last minute because of the Coronavirus Pandemic after months of planning and fundraising. The decision was taken for the welfare of their members and that of their community. However, the band members and their families were faced with the reality that they would potentially lose everything as New York and indeed USA were still open for travel.

Thanks to the tireless and continuous work of Liberty Travel in Letterkenny, the band managed to retrieve almost 70% of what was paid out. Thankfully, the families were refunded although the band lost thousands which were unrecoverable.

However, the band committee had always kept the dream alive and never gave up hope of one day doing this trip with the band. They had been working tirelessly behind the scenes to make it happen. 

On March 16, 2024, the band paraded on Fifth Avenue and put their wee town and county on the biggest stage. The band also took part in the Bayonne St Patrick's Day Parade in New Jersey on March 17.

It was an opportunity of a lifetime, as the 39 band members took part in the parades. The members are aged from eight upwards. In total, 74 people traveled to New York together. Most made it their family holiday this year.

St Catherine’s band has been recognized before: 

  • For St Patrick’s Day in 2010 and 2012, they travelled to Seattle, Washington, and London, respectively; 

  • The band also took part in many of the International Rose of Tralee festival parades as well as leading the Ireland and USA Soccer Teams at an International Friendly Match in the Aviva Stadium in 2018.

  • The band have also performed in EuroDisney Paris in 2017.

The band is under the guidance of its four fantastic teachers, Karen Devine (Music), Sharon Anderson (Choreographer), Sean Dorrian (Drums) and Annemarie O’Donnell (Marching). Karen and Sharone also performed with the band in New York. Sharon, a lifelong member of the band, was joined this time by her daughter, sister and nieces who all performed with the band.

Before leaving for the U.S., the leaders reported, “We have rehearsals for a few hours every week and the kids are really committed and working very hard, they are a credit to their families, their communities and most importantly to themselves. This is a huge trip to undertake and as you can imagine a lot of fundraising has been done, and the band would like to thank the parents, their local community and surrounding areas for their continuous support and look forward to representing you all in the Big Apple. We would also like to thank everyone who has contributed in any way towards the band’s trip. As there are too many to mention and with the fear of forgetting anyone, we will not mention any names.”

Band Photo

St.Catherine's Accordion Band from Killybegs did their thing on Fifth Avenue today, proudly taking part in the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade

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